Skip to main content

Eight Things to Watch and Read on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Daniel Hautzinger
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial in Chicago's Marquette Park
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial in Chicago's Marquette Park. Image: WTTW News

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. Thanks in large part to the activism of his wife, Coretta Scott King, his birthday is now honored as a federal holiday on the Monday closest to his actual date of birth. Celebrate the civil rights hero in a variety of stories about his legacy, time in Chicago, and more. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago

King and Coretta Scott King came to Chicago in 1966 and moved into an apartment in North Lawndale in 1966 to fight discriminatory housing practices in his first major campaign outside the South. Revisit that fight, and its result in the eventual passage of the Fair Housing Act after his assassination. 

Hear reminiscences of that campaign from former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and the Reverend Jesse Jackson in excerpts from WTTW's DuSable to Obama: Chicago's Black Metropolis

Visit Lawndale today and explore the legacy of King's fight for fair housing there in a Chicago Tonight story.

Join Chicago Tonight in Marquette Park, where counter-protesters of a march led by King hit him with a rock and caused him to say that he had never seen "mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I’ve seen in Chicago." Now a Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial by artists Sonja Henderson and John Pittman Weber stands in Marquette Park to mark that history. 

Coretta Scott King on Her Husband

In 1978, Coretta Scott King, an activist in her own right, spoke to WTTW's John Callaway about her fight for a full employment bill as well as her own life and work and her husband's. Watch excerpts from that interview. 

50 Years After Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death

Chicago Tonight revisited King's legacy and assassination on the 50th anniversary of his death, hearing from the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was there when King died. 

How Did Martin Luther King, Jr. Get a Holiday?

PBS's The Origin of Everything recounts the campaign to make King's birthday a federal holiday. 

The Civil Rights Movement

PBS's Eyes on the Prize, available to stream by WTTW Passport members, narrates the fight for civil rights in America, a struggle in which King obviously played a huge part.