Martin Luther King Day also called MLK Day, King Day, and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day is observed on the third Monday of January, which is close to King’s actual birthday on January 15. The earliest Monday the holiday will ever be celebrated is January 15th and the latest is January 21st. The day is a federal United States holiday with all government and most business offices closed. This year Martin Luther King’s day have place on January 16th
Martin Luther King, Jr was a Baptist minister and social activist that had a huge impact on the civil rights movement of the 1950’s in the United States. King was assassinated in 1968 and will be remembered for his non-violent protests against segregation and his “I have a Dream” speech.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed MLK Day into law and 3 years later it was first observed. By the year 2000, all fifty states officially observed the day. Another related holiday back in 1948, National Freedom Day was signed into law by President Truman as a national observance recognizing the outlaw of slavery enacted earlier during 1865 under President Lincoln during the civil war years.
The idea of Martin Luther King Day 2023 as a holiday was promoted soon after his assassination in 1968. After King’s death, United States Democrat Representative, John Conyers and, United State Republican Senator, Edward Brooke introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday.
The bill first came to a vote in the United States House of Representatives in 1979 and fell five votes short of the number needed. There were two main arguments mentioned by opponents, the first being that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive and, secondly, that a holiday to honour the birth (of a private citizen who had never held public office) would be contrary to the longstanding tradition.
The effort received more publicity when, after a decade, shortly after the failure of a bill that was introduced by Representative John Conyers. In September of 1979, Stevie Wonder released a song called “Happy Birthday”. That was meant to make a case for the holiday, calling out anyone who didn’t support the idea. Additionally, Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan came into office and originally opposed the holiday.
Additionally, Senators, of North Carolina Republicans, Jesse Helms and John Porter East opposed the holiday and questioned whether King was important enough to receive such an honour and criticized King’s opposition to the Vietnam War.
On November 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, to create a federal holiday honouring King. The bill passed the House of Representatives and was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. Initially, some states resisted observing the holiday only in the year 2000 was it officially observed in all 50 states for the first time.