January 13, 2012
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Urges
Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged students to honor the work and legacy of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the national holiday designated in his honor this Monday, January 16, 2012.
"Dr. King was an extraordinary American who promoted nonviolent resistance to racial segregation and inequality," said Torlakson. "This Monday, I urge students to take a moment to learn about and reflect upon his life, his achievements, and his message to the nation and the world. We should recall how he stirred the conscience of a nation, taught us about justice and equal rights. It is important for our students to value their citizenship and recognize the many people who struggled for equal rights are inspired by the ideas of the United States—'government of the people, by the people, for the people.'"
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed as a national holiday in 1986 on the third Monday of each January. The day is one of 10 holidays codified in the California Education Code Section 37220 and observed in California public schools.
Kindergarten students in California are introduced to events and people in history, including the purpose of commemorating holidays like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In grade three, students are introduced to descriptions of the lives of notable Americans who took risks to secure our freedoms, such as Dr. King. By the eleventh grade, students analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights, and examine the roles of civil rights advocates. These include A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr.; Thurgood Marshall; James Farmer; and Rosa Parks. They also learn about the significance of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and the "I Have a Dream" speech.
For information on California's History-Social Science Content Standards in connection with Martin Luther King, Jr., please visit History-Social Science Content Standards for California Schools (PDF).
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100