Remembering the Legacy of MLK

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into law that the third Monday in January would be recognized Federally as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in an effort to commemorate and honor the life of one of America’s greatest figures in the non-violent Civil Rights movement more than half a century ago. Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929, and every year around this time, our nation honors his fight for equality for all Americans.

Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal for his activism. Unfortunately, his life was tragically cut short when he was assassinated in 1968. However, Dr. King’s efforts led to direct changes within the Federal government. Among these being the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which established the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. His efforts also lead to the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act) which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Many of the benefits available on Benefits.gov could not even exist today if it were not for Dr. King’s continuing fight for equality. The Department of Labor (DOL) works to ensure individuals are not discriminated against for employment opportunities or in the workplace. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) was created by DOL to enforce non-discrimination and affirmative action obligations for Federal contractors and suppliers to the Federal government. Additionally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) aims at enforcing the Fair Housing Act through programs like the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) Private Enforcement Initiative. The FHIP’s direct goal is to develop, implement, carry out, and coordinate programs or activities designed to enforce the rights granted by the Fair Housing Act or by substantially equivalent state and local fair housing laws. Programs such as these are a direct result of Dr. King and other civil rights activists’ efforts to make the United States a more equal nation.

To learn more about assistance programs and other initiatives for equal opportunities in both employment and housing please visit the Department of Labor and/or the Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

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