Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Because Having a Job Is a Right, Not a Privilege.

The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations.

After King’s death, Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and 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.

Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister and social rights activist in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. He was a leader of the American civil rights movement. He organized a few peaceful protests as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including the March on Washington in 1963. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and, at the time, he was the youngest person to have done so.

Who did Martin Luther King, Jr., influence and in what ways?

Martin Luther King, Jr., influenced people around the world. He advocated for peaceful approaches to some of society’s biggest problems. He organized a few marches and protests and was a key figure in the American civil rights movement. He was instrumental in the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the March on Washington. The holiday honoring King is often celebrated as the MLK Day of Service, a reflection of his legacy of addressing social problems through collective action.

How was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dead?

Martin Luther King, Jr., was standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, when he was shot by James Earl Ray. An hour later, King died at St. Joseph’s hospital. His death sparked riots across the country. In the United States he is memorialized on the third Monday of January every year—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was first observed as a federal holiday in 1986.

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