Martin Luther King, Jr. Day recognizes the birth of the civil rights leader who led marches and boycotts for equal rights in the Southern United States. It is celebrated the third Monday in January. His inspiring words and actions remind Americans everywhere to work for racial, economic, and international justice. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday enacted by Congress in 1983. In 1994, Congress named it as a day of service to the community in recognition of Dr. King’s service to the world community.

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Unitarian Universalist Perspectives

The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr

Beacon Press, a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association, has an exclusive agreement to partner with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. in a publishing program, "The King Legacy," which gives Beacon the sole right to print new editions of previously published King titles and to compile Dr. King's writings, sermons, orations, lectures, and prayers into entirely new editions, including significant new introductions by leading scholars.

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Displaying 1 - 20 of 28

  • We have come here today to remember what some are intent on making us forget.
    Affirmation | By Addae Ama Kraba | January 10, 2022 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: History, Justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Race/Ethnicity, WorshipWeb, Worship
  • Ironically, Americans who self-identify as not racist—whether they're conservatives, moderates, liberals, radicals, progressives—they don't realize… that we are connecting ourselves to a history of slave traders who self-identified as not racist (although they didn't use that term). We're...
    Reading | By Ibram X Kendi | January 16, 2020 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 6th Principle (World Community), America, Anti-Oppression, Direct Experience, History, Identity, Juneteenth, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Oppression, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity
  • This service was written by Rev. Clyde Grubbs and Mary Jane Holden, and adapted by Erika Hewitt. It uses readers—as many as ten, plus the Worship Leader—to tell the story of the Civil Rights movement as it unfolded over the course of a decade. This story was designed to be read while photos were...
    Script | By Clyde Grubbs, Mary Jane Holden, Erika Hewitt | January 4, 2018 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: Activism, Anti-Oppression, Direct Experience, History, Humanism, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Multiculturalism, Race/Ethnicity, Secular, Solidarity
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a time when particular songs get sung; one of them is "Lift Every Voice and Sing." It gets sung in school, in church, and at various MLK day celebrations or over the course of Black History Month....
    Reflection | By Aisha Ansano | February 27, 2017 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), America, Anti-Oppression, Arts & Music, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Direct Experience, History, Juneteenth, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Pain, Privilege, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity
  • The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a radical. He was called “the most dangerous man in America” by the FBI and had a 17,000 page FBI file at the time of his death. It wasn’t just KKK members or those in positions of power who disagreed with him or hated him. As Cornel West explains in...
    Reading | By Aisha Ansano | February 27, 2017 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: #BlackLivesMatter, 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 6th Principle (World Community), Activism, America, Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Direct Experience, History, Humanism, Justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Multiculturalism, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity
  • In the face of hate, We answer the call of love.
    Responsive Reading | By Julia Corbett-Hemeyer | December 7, 2016 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: Activism, Anti-Oppression, Commitment, Equity, Human Rights, Humanism, Indigenous Peoples Day, Justice, Justice Sunday, Living Our Faith, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Multiculturalism, Pride Sunday, Secular, Seven Principles, Solidarity, Unitarian Universalism, United Nations Day, Vision
  • Let us wake up. Not just from the Sunday morning exhaustion, from the wish for a few more drowsy minutes in bed. Let us wake up to this world we live in: to its beauty and wonder, and also to its tragedy and pain. We must wake up to this reality: that not all in our world have what we do, however...
    Opening | By Christian Schmidt | October 29, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: #BlackLivesMatter, 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 6th Principle (World Community), 7th Principle (Interconnected Web), Activism, Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Challenge, Direct Experience, Justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Privilege, Race/Ethnicity, Unitarian Universalism
  • #‎BlackLivesMatter Let the only burning be the fire of commitment in our hearts, minds, hands, spirits in our community of faith. Live solidarity. Use your voice. Demand justice... better, live it into being. Cry out for others to join you. Name hate as hate—without shrinking back without...
    Poetry | By Jeannie Shero | August 11, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: #BlackLivesMatter, 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 6th Principle (World Community), 7th Principle (Interconnected Web), Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Change, Direct Experience, Honesty, Humanism, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Oppression, Power, Privilege, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity, Solidarity, Unitarian Universalism
  • Today, the congregation will be singing hymns from our hymnals which are particularly precious to us as Unitarian Universalists. But today, being the last Sunday in February, is also part of Black History Month....
    Time for All Ages | By Martha Dallas | May 12, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 6th Principle (World Community), Anti-Oppression, Arts & Music, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Direct Experience, Freedom, Juneteenth, Justice Sunday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Oppression, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity, Six Sources
  • Once upon a time there was a little girl named Rosa, who loved to read her Bible. One of her favorite stories was the story of Moses, and how he helped the Hebrew slaves gain freedom. Moses was a young man who lived in Egypt. He knew it wasn’t right for the Hebrew people to be the slaves of the...
    Story | By Christopher Buice | April 14, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Freedom, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday
  • My prayer today is that I learn to stay a war atheist— my prayer today for each of us, for everyone in this nation, in this world, is that we all learn to be war atheists. I don’t believe in war anymore. My prayer today is that I never again succumb to fear, fear which seduces me to believe that...
    Meditation | By Jessica Purple Rodela | March 2, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: Hiroshima Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Memorial Day, Nonviolence, Peace, Remembrance Day
  • The question is not, “What happens when we die?” Nobody really knows. The real question is, “What happens when we stop living?” The stoicism we face on a daily basis is a symptom of a larger illness called a dually-dulled life. Our lives can be hypnotized by the monotonous commutes,...
    Reading | By Nathan C. Walker | February 24, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), 5th Principle (Conscience & Democracy), Belief, Calling, Challenge, Change, Character, Direct Experience, Easter, Gratitude, Homecoming / Ingathering, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Respect, Trust, Unitarian Universalism, Worth, Yom Kippur
  • In his avant-garde theatrical “The Last Supper At Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” New York choreographer/dancer Bill T. Jones includes a backwards broadcast of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech: Last At Free Are We. Almighty God Thank! The jumbled juxtaposition of the great orator’s...
    Meditation | By Gary Kowalski | February 19, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), Belief, Challenge, Faith, Love, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Nonviolence, Vulnerability
  • This story was created collaboratively by several religious educators. As you prepare to share it, read the 1966 Ware Lecture "Don't Sleep Through the Revolution," by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in Hollywood, Florida, May 18, 1966.
    Story | By Gail Forsyth-Vail | January 29, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Humanism, Juneteenth, Justice, Justice Sunday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity, Responsibility
  • This is adapted from a litany by Gail Forsyth-Vail, who suggests the following to maximize the reading's power: Identify seventeen people who will come forward to represent the generations of African Americans in the British colonies and in the United States. As you name the first generation,...
    Reading | By James (Jay) C Leach | January 29, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), 6th Principle (World Community), Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, History, Humanism, Juneteenth, Justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity
  • This reading requires seventeen people who are able to come forward and represent the generations of African Americans in the British colonies and in the United States. As you name the first generation, indicate to a person that they should stand. Each time you call a new generation, you indicate...
    Reading | By Gail Forsyth-Vail | January 29, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 4th Principle (Truth & Meaning), 6th Principle (World Community), Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, History, Humanism, Juneteenth, Justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Prophetic Words & Deeds, Race/Ethnicity
  • When I was in third grade at Evergreen School in Plainfield, NJ, my best friend was John Carvana. At 8 years old, I was awkward physically and socially, and I was drawn to John’s intelligence and easy grace. The friendships of young boys are less about whispered secrets than about hanging out and...
    Sermon | By Fred Small | January 21, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 6th Principle (World Community), Anti-Oppression, Diversity, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Multiculturalism, Race/Ethnicity, Unitarian Universalism, Wholeness, Multiculturalism
  • Frances, an African American woman: To be African-American in this country is to face racism throughout life, however subtle. The love of one’s family is paramount in reducing the damage of racism on one’s wholeness. Unitarian Universalism is splendid as an affirming church family. Its primary...
    Reading | By Mark Hicks | January 21, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 2nd Principle (Justice, Equity, & Compassion), 3rd Principle (Acceptance & Spiritual Growth), 6th Principle (World Community), Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Diversity, Kwanzaa, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Multiculturalism, Race/Ethnicity, Unitarian Universalism, Multiculturalism
  • On the cusp of this new day in our nation’s history, seems like everyone has something to say. I have been deluged with emails from the various groups I try to pay attention to: Planned Parenthood, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture,...
    Sermon | By Melissa Carvill-Ziemer | January 21, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: 1st Principle (Worth & Dignity), 7th Principle (Interconnected Web), Anti-Oppression, Black History / Whitney Young / James Reeb, Identity, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Multiculturalism, Race/Ethnicity, Unity
  • I invite you now into a quiet time, a time for spoken and silent contemplation. Spirit of Life, we have come into each other's presence this day seeking a part of ourselves, knowing that we do not live alone, and knowing we cannot live fully if we are for ourselves alone....
    Prayer | By Wayne B. Arnason | January 21, 2015 | From WorshipWeb
    Tagged as: Commitment, Connections, Humility, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday