The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Jonathan Shields

News Editor

Yesterday, many school institutions had the day off for the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. During that day off, it can be easy to forget the impact that Martin Luther King Jr. had and all that he did for the United States.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta Georgia. King started his movement in 1955 when he led a boycott against city buses in Montgomery Alabama that refused to let Black people sit in the front seats. From then on he went on to lead a number of peaceful protests including a march on Washington in 1963 which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

On Aug. 28, 1963 he gave one of the most famous speeches of all time and one of the things he is remembered most for. His “I Have a Dream” speech promoted economic rights and fought to end racism in the United States. King would be shot and killed on April 4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee.

The legislation to introduce MLK day as a federal holiday was proposed as soon as four days after his assassination in 1968. However, it took years of fighting for activists to get the day approved as a federal holiday as it wouldn’t be passed until 1983 by then-president Ronald Regan. It wouldn’t be observed by all 50 states until 2000.

MLK day is celebrated on the third Monday in January which is the day closest to his birthday and it honors the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for all he had done for the United States.