Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Date in the current year: January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, also referred to as Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a United States federal holiday observed annually on the third Monday in January. It was first observed in 1986.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American pastor, humanitarian, civil rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He was one of the lead figures in the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the chief spokesman for nonviolent civil disobedience. He is most famous for his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis.

Soon after King's assassination, labor unions began a campaign for a federal holiday in his honor. In 1979, the bill to make his birthday a federal holiday came to a vote in the United States House of Representatives. However, it did not receive enough votes to pass.

A federal holiday to honor King was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. It was observed for the first time three years later, on January 20, 1986. Although King was born on January 15, the holiday is celebrated around his birthday, on the third Monday in January.

At first, some states were reluctant to observe the holiday, questioning whether King was worthy of such an honor. All 50 states officially observed it for the first time in 2000.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., federal holiday, public holiday