Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Significance and History of this Holiday

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a day is a set aside in the United States as a federal holiday. This holiday is celebrated every year on the third Monday of January to honor the life and legacy of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister who advocated the use of nonviolent means to end racial segregation. His prominence grew first during a bus boycott by African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. He was the founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and also led the 1963 March on Washington.

King was most influential of African American civil rights leaders during the 1960s. He was at the forefront in the struggle for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which then outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and employment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964.

Unfortunately, he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39 in Memphis, Tennessee. Each year, the celebration takes place on the Monday closest to his birthday.

How is The Holiday Celebrated?

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is usually celebrated with marches and parades and with speeches by civil rights leaders and politicians. Individuals and organizations also undertake volunteer efforts in support of what is often called the MLK Day of Service.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a holiday which came as a result of a legislation passed in 1983. It was observed in the United States for the first time in 1986. This legislation was introduced in Congress around 1968 but faced resistance by opponents who blocked it in Congress.

That notwithstanding, U.S. states and cities began honouring King’s birthday, January 15, as early as 1970. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law, and it was first observed on January 20, 1986. The first time all states observed it was in 2000. President Reagan stated that the holiday was meant to remember King and “the just cause he stood for”. “America is a more democratic nation, a more just nation, a more peaceful nation because Martin Luther King Jr became her pre-eminent non-violent commander,” Reagan said in 1983.

According to the White House, only three people in the US have a holiday observed in their honour: Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and King.

Banks and stock markets are closed on Monday, and generally, public schools observe the federal holiday to Mark this celebration.

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