Best Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.,[1] and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year. Born in 1929, King’s actual birthday is January 15 (which in 1929 fell on a Tuesday). The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21.

King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

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Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day a Public Holiday?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

 

Engraved pavement in the location of where Martin Luther King made his famous “I have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.

©iStockphoto.com/Marilyn Nieves

What Do People Do?

Martin Luther King Day is a relatively new federal holiday and there are few long standing traditions. It is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Some educational establishments mark the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism. In recent years, federal legislation has encouraged Americans to give some of their time on this day as volunteers in citizen action groups.

Martin Luther King Day, also known as Martin Luther King’s birthday and Martin Luther King Jr Day, is combined with other days in different states. For example, it is combined with Civil Rights Day in Arizona and New Hampshire, while it is observed together with Human Rights Day in Idaho. It is also a day that is combined with Robert E. Lee’s birthday in some states. The day is known as Wyoming Equality Day in the state of Wyoming.

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Public Life

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday, but has slightly different names in some states. Non-essential Government departments are closed, as are many corporations. Some schools and colleges close but others stay open and teach their students about the life and work of Martin Luther King.

Small companies, such as grocery stores and restaurants tend to be open, although a growing number are choosing to close on this day. Some compensate by opening on Washington’s Birthday instead. Recent federal legislation encourages Americans to give some of their time on Martin Luther King Day as volunteers in citizen action groups. Public transit systems may or may not operate on their regular schedule.

Long Weekend

Since Martin Luther King Day falls on Monday, it is one of the public holidays in the United States that always create a long weekend.

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Background

Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the “I Have A Dream” speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single “Happy Birthday” and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observances

Year Weekday Date Name Holiday Type Area
2016 Mon 18 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2017 Mon 16 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2018 Mon 15 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2019 Mon 21 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2020 Mon 20 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2021 Mon 18 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2021 Mon 18 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day State holiday All
2022 Mon 17 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day State holiday All
2022 Mon 17 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2023 Mon 16 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day State holiday All
2023 Mon 16 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2024 Mon 15 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2024 Mon 15 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day State holiday All
2025 Mon 20 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day State holiday All
2025 Mon 20 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday
2026 Mon 19 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day State holiday All
2026 Mon 19 Jan Martin Luther King Jr. Day Federal Holiday

 

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