Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday that occurs every third Monday of January.  This holiday is in memory of the birth of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  Martin Luther King Jr. was a man that promoted nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement.  He was a leader and someone that wanted to make a change.  After his assassination, people created a holiday idea in memory of him. This holiday was first proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979.  The bill to make this a federal holiday fell short by five votes.  There were many arguments that explained the only two people ever got a personalized holiday were George Washington, the first president of the U.S., and Christopher Columbus (the navigator, colonizer, and explorer from the Republic of Genoa, whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents).

After the bill failed to pass, the King Center got support from the community and the general public.  The idea was even backed up by the musician Stevie Wonder when he released his single “Happy Birthday” to gain attention to the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981.  Six million people signed a petition to Congress to pass the law.  It became the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.  In the White House rose garden President Ronald Reagan signed the bill for a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.  This holiday was celebrated for the first time on January 20, 1986.