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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #11-09
January 14, 2011
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Urges Public
to Honor the Work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today urged the public 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.

"Dr. King's nonviolent protest movement against racial segregation and inequality stirred the conscience of a nation," said Torlakson. "Dr. King's extraordinary legacy still has much to teach us about tolerance, civil discourse, and our shared responsibility to the cause of justice. I urge everyone to take time to revisit the life of Dr. King, reflect on his achievements, and consider how best to honor his memory through service to one another and bringing about justice through nonviolence."

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 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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