Welcome to January and to the first Culture Guide of 2017!
As the New Year begins, let’s take a look at other important “beginnings” in American history, including the births of a civil rights champion and a cultural icon. We’ll also introduce you to a national park in Colorado that gives visitors an incredible look back in time.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was an important figure in the U.S. civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, political activist, and amazing public speaker who fought against the discrimination of African Americans. He believed in creating political and social change through peaceful protest. In 1963, King and other civil rights leaders organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They led 250,000 protesters to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. At this event, King gave his famous I Have a Dream speech, calling for racial equality, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1983, Congress established a federal holiday marking King’s birthday (January 15, 1929). The holiday is observed on the third Monday in January each year. You can honor and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by taking part in a day of service. Find a volunteer project near you.
In the United States, it was illegal to sell, make, bring into the country, or transport alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. This period is known as Prohibition. It began on January 17, 1920, after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was passed a year earlier. Many groups sprung up to campaign against drinking, and together, became part of the Prohibition Movement, also known as the Dry Crusade. Despite the national ban, laws were difficult to enforce and alcohol did not disappear. Many Americans stored wine and hard liquor before the law was enacted. Others found private bars where they could continue to gather and drink. Prohibition ended in 1933, when Congress repealed the 18th Amendment and passed the 21st Amendment, in the first year that Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.
Elvis Presley was one of America’s most-beloved performers and is still one of this country’s most recognizable cultural icons. He was born in January 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis made the musical genre rockabilly (listen here) popular, and became the first international rock ’n’ roll superstar. Elvis was just 21 when he released his Billboard-chart-topping debut album. He followed it with television appearances, including this famous one on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” one of the most-popular TV programs of the time.
Whether you love history, the great outdoors, or both, a visit to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is worth the trip. This park is home to thousands of archeological sites, including legendary Pueblo cliff dwellings that are more than 1,400 years old. Built into a series of caves and cliffs, these structures were once home to the Ancestral Pueblo people, whose origins still fascinate archaeologists today. Don’t miss the ancient Pueblo artifacts at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and take a free guided tour of the park’s most well-preserved dwelling: Spruce Tree House.