Every year we celebrate the birth of one man who had a dream that we can live in a country where everyone is treated equally regardless of their race. It is a valid enough reason, but let’s dwell on the topic further and explain why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day in more (interesting) detail.
When Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrated?
The national holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January. King’s real birthday was on January 15th, but this date was chosen as the most convenient one.
Why Is Martin Luther King Jr. of so Much Significance to Be Awarded a National Holiday Day?
It’s a long story, but we will do our best to point out the highlights.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. By profession, King was a Baptist minister. However, his true vocation could be described as the most prominent spokesperson for the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. is world-famous for leading non-violent mass civil rights protests throughout the country. One of the most notable ones was at the Capitol, where he delivered his amazing “I have a dream” speech in front of 250,000 people in 1963. Is in this speech, where he outlines the long history of racial injustice and encourages his audience to hold America accountable to its own founding promises of freedom, justice, and equality.
Next year, at age 35, Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest man ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his battle for racial equality.
By celebrating MLK Day, we are celebrating everything that the King was working hard to bring to life, and that is a country where being of a certain race does not bring any restrictions or benefits for that matter.
A Brand New Holiday
Despite the fact that the suggestion for creating King’s day came only four days after he was assassinated in 1968, the holiday was officially adopted in all states only in 2000. The road to all states accepting MLK day was far from easy.
John Conyers, who was a Democratic congressman from Michigan in 1968, proposed the bill to the Congress in order to commemorate King’s legacy. However, Congress declined it. The struggle continued in the decade to come and several states agreed to MLK Day as the whole idea was gaining ever more supporters. Yet, in the House of Representatives, the bill fell five votes short in 1979.
This did not discourage the activists and everybody who shared the “I have a dream” ideals. In 1981, musicianStevie Wonder released a Happy Birthday song in order to aid the promotion of King’s birthday, i.e. holiday. Mutual efforts led to what is known as the biggest petition in the US as 6 million Americans signed the petition for MLK Day. The House of Representatives took up the bill at last in 1983 and it passed by 53 votes. After the Senate struggle, the president at the time (Ronald Reagan) signed the bill that same year, and the first federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated in 1986.
Still, it wasn’t until 2000 that all states adopted the federal holiday.
MLK as a Day of Service
Making time to volunteer for MLK Day of Service is a great way to engage with your community while honoring the legacy of Dr. King. Whether you plan on cleaning up a public space, mentoring a young person, or assisting those who are food insecure, what you do makes a world of difference. Instead of asking for money or donations in your neighborhood, invite them to make thank you cards and collect them at a local hospital.
Why Do We Need MLK Day?
MLK Day is a time for us to reflect and make sure that we, as individuals, are working on our own prejudices. We must treat everyone as an equal and make sure that everyone is entitled to the same opportunities.
Once something is proclaimed as a federal holiday, extra emphasis can be made in schools and other educational institutions, thus raising awareness of the generations to come. The majority of workplaces and federal offices usually take a day off on MLK day.
Is Martin Luther King Jr Day a Major Holiday?
By celebrating this holiday, we are reminded every year of the past and the present, how far we’ve come and how much more work should be invested in order to end racial disparity in the US (and around the world). What is more, it places focus on the fact that all Americans have equal rights regardless of their gender, race, ethnic, or religious backgrounds.