We observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the third Monday of January, which falls on January 16 this year.
Dr. King was an influential civil rights leader who kept fighting for racial equality and human rights for the African American community. We take today to remember and celebrate his achievements and contributions to the United States.
When Dr. King delivered one of his famous and iconic speeches, “I Have a Dream” at the Lincoln Memorial, where over 200,000 participants got involved in the march in Washington D.C. became one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement.
The event emphasizd people’s demand for racial equality as well as the nonstop continuation of combating with discrimination and segregation for the colored people.
This holiday was advocated by labor unions. After the death of Dr. King, U.S. Representative John Conyers and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke wrote a bill in Congress, with the purpose of developing Dr. King’s birthday into a national holiday.
However, lacking five voters for passing the bill in Congress.
One argument about establishing this federal holiday was because the opponents think it would be too expensive to have a paid holiday for its employees. Another disagreement was about Dr. King had never held public office, therefore, there was no need to set up a holiday and honor a private citizen.
Later on, musician Steve Wonder organized the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981, in response to the need for the King Center to look to the public for support. Afterwards, six million signatures were collected for Congress to pass the bill, which was considered as the largest petition in U.S. history.
As a result, the Congress made the bill become a law. Because of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, this holiday was founded on the third Monday of January instead of Dr. King’s birthday.
Today is not just a day off from work. We encourage everyone to take some time to learn about Dr. King in depth, gain a deeper understanding about the significance of the civil rights movement and create a conversation with your friends to share your opinions.