Saturday, January 15, 2011


Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. With his birth began his destiny to lead a nation, a people to demand equal rights in a nation that did not welcome the right especially in deep south. 

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968Four days after King was assassinated in April 1968, Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced legislation to create a commemorative holiday honoring him. 

Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-N.Y., resubmitted a bill for the King holiday during every legislative session for a decade. There were many arguments against the legislation; some felt King was not worthy of the honor, and others complained that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to the longstanding tradition of honoring only those who held a public office.

After the bill stalled in Congress, organizers submitted petitions endorsing the holiday signed by six million people. In 1980, music icon Stevie Wonder released the song “Happy Birthday,” which became a national rallying cry. Public pressure further heightened during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington.

After 15 years of continuous advocating, Congress passed the legislation, and in November 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a law creating the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The law moved the holiday from Jan. 15, King’s birthday, to the third Monday in January. The first official holiday was observed in 1986. 

Source: PBS



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