English Literature » Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.


This Monday, January 18, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday meant to honor the life of the powerful activist and encourage Americans of all ages, races, and backgrounds to join together in service of their communities.

Best known for his dream—not just the American Dream of economy and success, but a more inclusive dream of peace, multiplicity, and equality—King and this dream resound in the lives and work of others who have also dared to dream for a better country and world. In “Dream Variations,” Langston Hughes says his dream is “to fling my arms wide” and dance, then

rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—

while in her poem “won’t you celebrate with me,” Lucille Clifton sings a song of triumph and celebrates her daily survival as a black woman:

come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

For the dreamers and the activists and all those who serve the prospect of a better world, we’ve curated a selection of poems for you to share on this day of remembrance and service.

Essays by Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. I Have A Dream Speech