Stevie Wonder believed that there was a man who should be celebrated on the day of his birth, not only celebrated - but that Americans should recognize his birth as a national holiday. In 1981, Stevie Wonder released the song "Happy Birthday" to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man as Stevie says in his own lyrics... " lived and died for the oneness of all people."
Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement. His approach was non-violent, staging sit-ins and marches. He spoke of faith and love, brotherhood and unity. His mission was to end segregation, and to see the truth ‘that all men are created equal’ come to light in our nation. As an activist, King was vital to the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or origin. He was instrumental in the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 which banned racial inequity by the federal, state and local ...view middle of the document...
He believed that this man who lived and died fighting for the rights of every man, woman and child – should have a day of remembrance, so he wrote “Happy Birthday” and would perform it at the end of each of his performances. He would then encourage his audience, at times 20,000 or more people to write their local Congressman. Show after show Stevie implored people to stand up and advocate for a world party for this man who should never be forgotten.
Four days after King was assassinated, U.S. Representative John Conyers introduced a bill to Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. At the time, no private citizen had a national day of remembrance – resistance of the bill, holding on to tradition and arguing that the holiday would be too costly, led to the bill not passing. Years later, however, this cause – and the determination, support and passion of the public would lead to the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S History. Stevie Wonder was instrumental in popularizing the campaign, and with the release of “Happy Birthday”, the plan to observe Martin Luther King’s birthday was fortified. In 1983 President Reagan signed the bill that would establish Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday as a federal holiday.
With a anthem honoring a man that contributed so much to others, a man that believed justice and peace was for everyone; people united and brought about change once again. Stevie loved and revered King for all of the love and sacrifice he gave to mankind. This love gave rise to a day now celebrated every 3rd Monday in the month of January.
One man’s dream led to the fruition of another man’s plan to honor that dream, to cement his memory in history. Today, one may celebrate MLK Jr day by taking a moment to reflect on the legacy of King and what he stood for. On this holiday one might incorporate the techniques King used when facing opposition into their own lives or one may simply enjoy this day off by being of service to others. However someone chooses to spend time on this day, it is worth noting that one person can make a difference and one song can change the world.