The Legacy Of Dr. Martin Luther King
Today is a national holiday that was established in 1986. This holiday is held in honor each January 15th or around that time on the third Monday in January of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. King who was a strong social activist who fought for equality among the races, workers rights and protested against the Vietnam War.
Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 and so, a bill was introduced in congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. However the holiday wasn’t officially recognized until the eighties.
President Ronald Regan first made Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a federally recognized holiday in 1983. However, it wasn’t recognized as a holiday in all 50 states until 2000.
• Martin Luther King Jr. Day was the first federal holiday to recognize a private citizen who had never held office. In fact, this was one of the primary arguments against it, though popular support helped push it into law.
• Over six million people signed a petition given to Congress in an attempt to get the holiday recognized. This petition was submitted to Congress in 1970. This was and remains the largest petition in US history.
• South Carolina first recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an official holiday in 2000, with paid leave for all state employees. Before 2000, state employees could choose to take off either MLK day or one of three Confederate holidays.
• MLK day is also celebrated in Hiroshima, Japan, where the mayor holds a dinner at the mayor’s office to celebrate the city’s calls for peace with Dr. King’s human rights beliefs.
• Toronto, Canada also celebrates MLK day.
• Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was the youngest person in history to have won the prize.
• King helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Another person made famous due to the boycott was Rosa Parks.
• King was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1963.
• King never graduate high school, but instead went onto college, graduating with a B.A. at the age of 19.
• After his assassination, Martin Luther King was in Atlanta, Georgia, his hometown. The gravesite is now part of a National Historic Site called the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
• Martin Luther King Jr.’s tombstone has the phrase, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last” engraved on it.