The third Monday of January every year is observed as Martin Luther King Jr. Day to celebrate the birth of the eminent civic rights leader who was born on 15th January, 1929. Martin Luther was well renowned for his achievements and influence during the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He widely promoted non-violence and put great efforts to reduce segregation and racism.
History behind the day -
After Martin Luther's assassination at the age of 39 in 1968, John Conyers (A Democrat) forwarded a bill to the Congress with a plea to make King's birthday an official holiday. In 1979, on failing to acquire the necessary number of votes to get passed, the bill's approval was brought about in 1981, by a petition signed by six million people in favor of it.
A bill was passed on November 2, 1983 by President Ronald Reagen and a federal holiday to honor King was approved of. The first Martin Luther King Day was observed on January 20th, 1986.
However, initially New Hampshire, North and South Carolina and Arizona resisted giving King the entire credit for the Civil Rights Movement but eventually, by 1999, all the states came to observe Martin Luther King Day.
Martin Luther King and his achievements -
Martin Luther King Jr. was an eminent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, he led The Montgomery Bus Boycott. King also led the 1963 'March to Washington' and made his most famous speech 'I Have a Dream'. King is renowned for his non-violent ways to oppose racism in the United States. Besides this, at least fifty honorary degrees were awarded to King from various colleges and universities around the world. On October 14, 1964, he became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
What happens on this King's Day?
Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday. King is honored and his actions are remembered at various places. While most schools and colleges remain closed, some dedicate this day to impart teachings of Martin Luther to students. Other commercial organizations may or may not remain closed.
King Day around the world -
Martin Luther King Day is also celebrated in the cities of Hiroshima, Japan and Toronto Canada (it is not a paid holiday in Toronto).