Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Posted On: January 11, 2024

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday held annually on the third Monday in January, which honors the life of one of the most influential civil rights leaders in American history. Following his assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968, efforts were made to pay homage to the slain leader. Many cities nationwide responded by naming/renaming public landmarks, streets, and schools. In the 1970s, support for a national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday grew. Several states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, became the first to enact statewide King holidays, but Congress failed to act nationally, according to The King Center.

In November 1979, President Jimmy Carter called on Congress to vote on the King Holiday Bill. Not everyone was on board, and five votes in the House defeated the bill. Despite years of setbacks, Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, continued to fight for the holiday’s approval and testified multiple times before Congress. After the 1979 defeat of the bill, award-winning singer Stevie Wonder wrote the song entitled “Happy Birthday” and held the Rally for Peace press conference in 1981.  All of which brought international attention to the campaign.

On November 3, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill approving the holiday, to be observed on the third Monday in January each year. On January 20, 1986, as Americans commemorated the birthday of Dr. King with a holiday in his name, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was celebrated for the first time, five days after what would have been his 57th birthday.

Please click the link below for more information about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

Martin Luther King Jr: Day, Death, Quotes | HISTORY