Monday marks the day we honor civil rights activist and national hero Martin Luther King, Jr. whose contributions to our society changed the U.S. forever. During his lifetime, MLK won many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Posthumously, a Congressional Gold Medal was issued in his and his wife’s honor. Last year, the U.S. Mint issued a silver dollar honoring the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which MLK was integral in passing. These striking tributes to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. serve as a commemoration for someone who did so much for the world.
Nobel Peace Prize
In 1964, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to MLK for his work in civil rights and social justice. This was just a year after his famed “I Have a Dream Speech” that he gave in front of 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. It was also the same year that the Civil Rights Act was passed. The medal is solid gold and features a portrait of Dr. Nobel on the obverse, and an image of three men embracing on the reverse.
Congressional Gold Medal
Forty years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, MLK was honored again. In 2004, George W. Bush signed legislation to award Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, the Congressional Gold Medal. Last June, ten years later, President Obama finally presented the award. The solid gold medal features a portrait of Rev. King and his wife on the obverse, and includes an MLK quotation on the reverse.
Civil Rights Act Commemorative Silver Dollar
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, a commemorative silver dollar was issued. Though the coin doesn’t depict Rev. King himself, it does feature the protestors who marched on Washington to see him speak. The reverse side shows a flame burning strong. Money from the sales of the coin goes to the United Negro College Fund.
In 1999, the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee suggested a commemorative coin honoring Rev. King. In 2001, a bill was brought to Congress to require the minting of a MLK commemorative coin, but it was not enacted. It remains to be seen whether or not anyone will re-attempt similar legislation.
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