Did you know?

1. The day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s April 4, 1968, assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, many St. Thomas and St. Catherine students attended a memorial mass on the St. Thomas campus. According to the Aquin newspaper, the students then organized and made a five-mile walk down Summit Avenue to the Cathedral of St. Paul, then continued on to the State Capitol building, where they met with Minnesota Gov. Harold LeVander. Along the way, several Hamline, Macalester and University of Minnesota students joined the march, and the crowd eventually grew to nearly 1,000, spread out along Summit for about a half mile. The story noted that approximately 20 St. Thomas faculty members joined faculty members from other local universities in the peaceful march.

2. The governor read a telegram that he sent to Mrs. King and a proclamation in which he declared that Dr. King was a “twentieth century disciple of the Prince of Peace.” His executive order called for a day of mourning and in tribute ordered that the state flag be lowered in honor.

3. A call for a federal holiday in Dr. King’s honor began soon after his death in 1968. A bill eventually passed both chambers of Congress in 1983 and President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law. The federal law was first observed three years later. Some states initially refused to celebrate the holiday by giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

4. St. Thomas first designated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a university holiday in January 1994.

Read more about St. Thomas’ connection to Dr. King here.

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