Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

American History and the meaning of National Events

MLK Day - January 21st 2008 / January 19th 2009

Also commonly called Martin Luther King Day, or MLK Day for short, this federal holiday celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. Though King was born on January 15th, the holiday is held on the third Monday in January each year. It was Ronald Regan who signed the law in 1983 to make King’s birthday a national holiday, however it wasn’t first observed as a holiday until 1986. Even then not all states celebrated the holiday officially until the year 2000.

That is because Martin Luther King Day was met by opposition and controversy from the very beginning. Many states were reluctant to accept the federal holiday under that name and even those who voted in the designation of the holiday didn’t like the fact that it was a national holiday for a private citizen. Many states observed the holiday only under different designations, such as Civil Rights Day, and sometimes in connection with other holidays.

The initial opposition to naming Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday finally did come to an end after petition to Congress was began. The petition was signed by more than 6 million U.S. citizens showing that the American people were favor of honoring the Civil Rights leader.


Federal Holidays