Date and Origin of Martin Luther King's Birthday
Martin Luther King's Birthday Dates in 2019, 2020 and 2021
Martin Luther King's Birthday is celebrated at the following dates:
- Monday, January 21st 2019
- Monday, January 20th 2020
- Monday, January 18th 2021
Martin Luther King Jr. day is a federal holiday that celebrates civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr.'s, birthday. It occurs on the third
Monday in January every year, close to his birthday, which falls on January 15.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights leader who advocated for nonviolent civil disobedience and equality among all races1. He received a Nobel Peace Prize in 196410. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Thursday, April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee2.
Origins of the national day
Shortly after his assassination, lobbies were pushed to create a holiday commemorating his life and work towards civil rights. Labor Unions advocated for the holiday as a part of contract negotiations3. The bill to make MLK day a federal holiday was first introduced by Representative John Conyers (D. Michigan) and Senator Edward Brooke (R. Massachusetts) in 19794.
Originally, the bill was 5 votes short of passing because it was deemed to expensive to add another paid holiday and was contrary to the tradition of celebrating only those who had held public office5. The King Center (http://www.thekingcenter.org/) turned to corporations and the general public to garner support, leading to "the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history," with 6 million signatures5. Despite initially opposing the holiday, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making MLK day a national holiday in 1983, which was first observed in 19866.
Opposition to the Bill
North Carolina republican senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East led the opposition to implementing the holiday, stating that Martin Luther King Jr. was not important enough to have a federal holiday in his honor7. Helms led a filibuster against the bill alleging the Dr. King had ties with communism. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York state senator, stomped the 300 page report on the senate floor, calling it a "packet of filth8. Despite being a national holiday, many states did not observe the date until 1991 and many states still do not observe it under the name Martin Luther King Jr. day.
About 37% of workplaces have MLK day off9as well as most schools and universities. Since many people have the Monday off, retailers often have MLK day sales for that Monday only. Some people commemorate the life of MLK by volunteering for charitable organizations on this day.