ATLANTA—Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 50 years old on Jan. 15, 1979.

Each year we celebrate his birthday, praising God for allowing such a  leader to move among us, even though for a short time. Our 1979 Annual Program and Birthday Observance will be the most exciting program we have ever undertaken. Our theme is “The King 50th: You Can Fulfill the Dream.”

Cartoon by Thomas Stockett.

My husband’s dream is still not realized and yet, during this past year, we have seen great progress both here at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change and throughout the world.

The Center’s goal of full employment for our nation is now one step closer to reality, thanks to the passage of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill. As many of you know, the Center spearheaded the creation of the broad based coalition of organizations which worked hard for the bill, and for the needed economic machinery to make full employment a true national priority. Our work has been rewarded and our task now is to make sure that the public and private sectors of our economy work together to quicken the day when every person willing to work can find a decent job.

The 50th Birthday Observance will focus attention on establishing Jan. 15 as a federal holiday. The time has come for us to demand that Congress follow the lead of 13 states which already have declared the 15th of January a public holiday.

Atlanta in January will be an exciting place to be, and I invite all of you to be here so that we may renew our personal covenants to my husband’s legacy.

Martin’s 50th Birthday is a time for us to share with each other the spirit of the Movement he led, and to recommit ourselves to continuing his nonviolent campaign for social and economic justice for all peoples, everywhere.

Coretta Scott King


The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change