Proclamation 5760 -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, 1988
the President of the
years ago this coming April, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was slain by an
Luther King's leadership was of the same character as his dream. It was larger
than personality and broader than history. It bore the stamp of the religious
tradition that formed his early life and led him to an assistant pastorship at
in a march for desegregation on Good Friday, 1963, Martin Luther King wrote
from the Birmingham City Jail of his faith in this ultimate dawning of
equality: ``We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the
nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we
may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of
Martin Luther King's words were eloquent because they were borne not by his tongue alone but by his very being; not by his being alone but by the beings of every one of his fellow black Americans who felt the lash and the sting of bigotry; and not by the living alone but by every generation that had gone before him in the chains of slavery or separation. He brought light to the victims of segregation, but he brought light as well -- in a way, illumined by faith, more sorely needed -- to its perpetrators. He saw how evil could crush the spirit of both the oppressor and the oppressed, but whereas ``unearned suffering'' was redemptive, those who were motivated by hatred and inflicted pain had no recourse but to abandon the instruments of prejudice and to change heart.
Through his evocation, by his words and his presence, of transcendent ideals, Martin Luther King pierced to the heart of American society and changed it, irrevocably, for the better. He, and all those who marched with him, overcame. As they did so, so too did the America that Lincoln had said could not stand divided -- transmuted now through the toil and blood of its fallen heroes into a land more wholly free. The work of justice and freedom continues, but its goal is less distant, its hardships more tolerable, and its triumph more sure. For these gifts to our Nation, during his lifetime and in the decades past and to come, all Americans join in fitting celebration of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Public Law 98 - 144, the third Monday in January of each year has been designated as a public holiday in honor of the ``Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.''
Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the
Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 12th day of January, in the
year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the
[Filed with the Office
of the Federal Register, ,