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|Martin Luther King Jr. Day|
Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964
|Official name||Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.|
|Also called||MLK Day, King Day, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day|
|Observed by||United States|
|Date||Third Monday in January|
|2016 date||January 18|
|2017 date||January 16|
|2018 date||January 15|
|2019 date||January 21|
|This article is part of a series about
Martin Luther King Jr.
Death and memorial
Death and memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations. After King's death, U.S. Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office). Only two other figures have national holidays in the U.S. honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.
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