Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: January 16
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday in the United States and its territories.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday celebrated in the United States commemorating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is celebrated annually on the third Monday in January. The holiday is notable as one of only four federal holidays that recognizes an individual.
History of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent spokesman and the chief architect of the non-violent movement for civil rights and racial equality. He was brutally assassinated in the year 1968. It created shockwaves across the nation and Martin Luther King, Jr. was regarded a martyr and a pioneer in the long war against discrimination. His followers wanted to have a day remembering him, and thus, the idea of a holiday came about.
In 1983, President Reagan signed into law the official creation of the holiday, but not without personal opposition to it. Some people declared that an additional paid federal holiday would be too expensive for the States. Others claimed that since King hadn’t held a public office, a celebration of his birthday seemed irrelevant.
A strong outpouring of support across the United States and a huge majority in the House and Senate eventually countered any protest to the holiday’s creation. However, some states continued to resist adopting the holiday or chose to name it something different. It wasn’t until May 2, 2000—when the governor of South Carolina made it an official state holiday—that it became a unanimous nationwide celebration.
The United States’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
There are various events and activities that mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Many schools, universities, and businesses close down for the day. Speeches and community-wide presentations are often given about the man’s legacy. In some areas, there are also marches and parades. The activities are done to tell the younger generation what Martin Luther King, Jr. strove to accomplish and how to better pursue his dream of racial equality.