Martin Luther King, Jr Day | JOY for Today

Martin Luther King, Jr foreground, American flag background. Text includes the title of Martin Luther King, Jr. day and quotes Galatians 3:28.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is a champion of the fight. To think of him is to know persistence. On this day, we honor him for who he was, the change he championed, and the hope he continues to enliven in all of us.

Here are some ways we aim to honor him:

Did You Know Martin Luther King, Jr...

  1. Wasn't named Martin at birth? When he was 6, his dad changed both their names from Michael to Martin after traveling to Germany and learning more about Martin Luther, the protestant reformist.
  2. Learned how to politely demand respect from his father? When police officers would call his father "boy," Martin Luther King, Sr, would politely correct them.
  3. Enrolled in college at the age of 15? King skipped grades nine and twelve, then enrolled in Morehouse College - following in his father's footsteps - in 1944.
  4. Was voted class president in a mostly white class? His senior class at Crozer Theological Seminary elected him class president. This is the seminary that awarded him his Bachelor of Divinity in 1951.
  5. Was a fourth generation minister? His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all pastors.
  6. Said he felt no ill-will toward a woman who tried to assassinate him 10 years before his death? Izola Ware Curry approached Martin in a department store and, after confirming his identity, plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. Doctors who operated on him said one sneeze would have killed him. 
  7. Traveled over 6,000,000 miles to deliver over 2500 speeches while authoring 5 books and numerous articles in 11 years? Some of his better-known works include the "I Have a Dream" speech, "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," and Why We Can't Wait.
  8. Improvised the "I Have a Dream" part of his speech? From the audience singer Mahalia Jackson yelled, "Tell them about your dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!" And the rest, as we say, is history.
  9. Was the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient when he received it? At 35, he was awarded the Nobel Prize "for his non-violent struggle for civil rights for the Afro-American population."
  10. Spent 13 years leading the American Civil Rights Movement? While he led with a nonviolent approach - based on the teachings of Christianity and Mahatma Gandhi - King was on the receiving end of much violence. He faced incarceration, bombings, personal assault, and, ultimately, assassination. 

We'd Love to Know:

How Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires you.

Wolfe Stew Connects

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is one holiday that remains. Every year, our country makes a point to recognize this man who worked so diligently to end racial injustice. His life serves as a beacon for standing up for what you believe in, for fighting your good fight. 

This is exactly our goal this year: To learn to fight for what we believe in. The first part of which is CHOOSING what is a good fight. We've made a GROWTH for Today calendar with daily tasks to help you CHOOSE what matters to you, why it matters, and practice making choices that reflect your values. If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you.

We'd Love to Know:

About a fight you're fighting. What keeps you motivated and moves you to speak up?

Bible Verses and Quotes to Inspire

Bible Verses

  • "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." - Amos 5:24 (NIV)
  • "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain." - Isaiah 40:4-5 (NIV)
  • "Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." - Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
  • "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
  • "You have heard people say, 'Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.' But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that? Don't even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:43-48 (CEV)


  • "We must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all our actions." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  • "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • "But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

 We'd Love to Know:

Which of these verses or quotes speaks most to you? Or what's another one that we missed?

Activity Suggestions

To honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr, might we suggest the following activities:

  • Read (or listen to) his "I Have a Dream" speech at
  • Journal your response to his dream. 
  • Use this mini-unit from First Grade Wow with your learners. (Adaptable for older learners too.)
    • Apple activity to explore the quote: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Inferring activity to explore meanings of several of his quotes.
    • A mini-book that learners can illustrate.
    • Book recommendations.
    • MORE!
  • Make a mini book or poster of your own featuring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quotes that inspire you.
  • Think through the song "America" (featured in Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech) and ask yourself where we still need to work toward freedom in our country. What about in your own life?

We'd Love to Know: 

How you honor Martin Luther King, Jr. each year. Is there a favorite classroom activity you do? Do you talk about him with your family? Does it inspire you to work harder toward desired changes in your life?

We’re excited to share in one more day with you and wish you JOY for Today and hope for tomorrow.

Fighting the Good Fight with You,

Red stew bowl with steam rising from top. Wolfe Stew crawled on front.

Find even more JOY for Today in our monthly calendars, holiday, and seasonal posts.


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