Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Many of you are off of school or work today because of this holiday. It is, in fact, a United States federal holiday that marks the birthday of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although his birthday is January 15th, it is observed on the third Monday of January.
The holiday came into existence in 1983 after a failed attempt to make it a federal holiday 4 years before. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created the holiday to honor King and it was first celebrated in 1986.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is someone very worthy of a holiday. He was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is most famous for leading the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and his “I Have a Dream” speech that changed America forever. In 1964, MLK received the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against racial inequality.
Before MLK and other civil rights activists such as Rosa Parks, African-Americans were treated differently than white people. They were forced to use different restrooms, sit in different sections in public places and ride in the back of the bus. The protests and statements that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made were extremely significant in equality for all people.
Dr. MLK was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray. Today his memory continues to live on and his life and many accomplishments are celebrated today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.