Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics (SORCC)
35th Observance of Martin Luther King Jr.
Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, marks the nation's 35th observance of the legal holiday honoring slain civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr. On November 2, 1983. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday, effective January 20, 1986. Congress designated the holiday in 1994 as a day of service, asking Americans to observe it as a "day on– not a day off" in honor of Dr. King's words, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?"
Dr. King was born Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta. Dr. King skipped the ninth and 12th grades and studied at Morehouse College in Atlanta at age 15. While still an undergraduate student, he was ordained a minister and was elected assistant pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church at age 18.
He received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Morehouse at 19, a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa., at 21, and a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University at 25. Dr. King also studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.
Dr. King once described the life of the black American as "sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination." and even had to give up their seats to whites. But in December 1955, a black seamstress took a seat in the front of the bus in Montgomery, Ala., and helped to change the face of the American landscape.
Told to get up so a white person could sit down, Rosa Parks refused, defying the city's segregated transportation ordinance. She was arrested. The incident spurred Dr. King, then the new pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, and other blacks to organize a boycott of the bus company.
The boycott succeeded, gaining widespread public attention and serving as a model for many other similar actions by civil rights activists around the country. The civil rights movement had begun. Within six months, the courts had decreed state and local laws enforcing the segregation of public transportation were unconstitutional.
In the ensuing years, Dr. King made equal rights his life's work. Using his own assets and nonviolent tactics, he organized hundreds of boycotts, rallies and marches across the United States, becoming a pivotal civil rights figure. He was often beaten, imprisoned and maligned, but he never stopped teaching or practicing nonviolence.
Dr. King was arrested 30 times for participating in civil rights activities. One of those times, while in solitary confinement, Dr. King wrote the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in the margins of a newspaper and on scraps of paper. He refuted several influential critics who had condemned his work as "unworthy of a man of God." King wrote he had come to bring the gospel far beyond his own home.
King’s legacy through service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community. Dr. King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger
and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King’s teachings continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs -- poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education. Proud American men and women are serving and sacrificing for freedom
around the world as America’s military defends us against terrorism. Many of these Veterans are coming to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with special needs and challenges that require the hearts and hands of a new generation of VA volunteers.
VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics (VA SORCC) invited citizens young and old to join us in honoring our Veterans and learning more about VA’s volunteer program. Every citizen can make a positive difference in the life of a Veteran patient. Visits from community groups does lots to lift our Veterans spirits. If you would like to volunteer at the VA SORCC visit the VA SORCC Voluntary Service website or call 541-830-7467 for additional information.