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Program scheduled honoring civil rights leader King

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 21st Space Wing will host its annual commemorative service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 11 a.m.-noon Jan. 22 at the Peterson chapel. The annual theme is "Remember, Celebrate, Act - Dr. King's Dream for Our World."

The program will feature poetry, historical narratives and music. The guest speaker for this year's program is Col. Charles Arnold, 21 Mission Support Group commander.

During the early 1960s, King became the primary advocate for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement where successful protests against racial discrimination in the federal and state laws were accomplished. Throughout the marches, King used a different approach to protest, by encouraging civil rights marchers to refrain from violence by confronting their opponents with peaceful speech and posture, and credits this concept of nonviolent resistance to teachings of senior government official Mahatma Ghandi from India.

Each year, the federal government, states and communities celebrate the federal holiday in honor of the contributions King made on a global scale in establishing equal rights. It took 15 years to create the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Congressman John Conyers, from Michigan, first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday four days after King was assassinated in 1968. After the bill became stalled, petitions endorsing the holiday containing six million names were submitted to Congress. Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisolm, from New York, resubmitted King holiday legislation at each subsequent legislative session. After major efforts to have the bill endorsed, the first observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was Jan. 20, 1986.

This holiday occurs on the third Monday in January each year and was established to serve as a time for Americans to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change espoused by King.

The program is free and open to all military and civilian personnel, Department of Defense family members and their guests.

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