On This Day In History: MLK Federal Holiday Declared

Posted by Sarah Seippel on

MLK Federal Holiday Declared (1983)

On this day in history, President Ronal Reagan signed a bill in the White House designed a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., to be observed on the third Monday of January.  When a country observes a holiday is when a public holiday is celebrating on a date that may not be the actual event’s anniversary date.  In this case, the holiday is based around Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, as to honor the influential American civil rights leader.

Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta in 1929.  He grew up in a Baptist family, his father being a pastor at a Baptist church.  Martin Luther attended public schools in Georgia, graduating high school at the young age of fifthteen.  He continued his education by studying theology at Crozer Theological Seminary up north in Pennsylvania, where he was elected president his senior year by a predominantly white senior class.  After finishing his studies here, Martin Luther enrolled in graduate school at Boston University, where he also finished his doctorate in 1955.  In was in Boston where he met his wife ad then started his own family, having two sons and two daughters.

Civil Rights

A year before completing his doctorate degree, Martin Luther became the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  As a known advocate for civil rights for members of his race, he also served as a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organizing of its kind in the entire United States.

Three years later in 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization designed to provide leadership for the blossoming civil rights movement.  The ideals for this group were based on Christian values.  During the next eleven years, Martin Luther traveled to speak to millions, primarily to areas where there was injustice and protests.  While traveling to speak, he also wrote five books and numerous articles.  It was during this time that he led one of his more notorious protests in Birmingham, Alabama.  This caught the attention of the entire world, and it inspired a manifesto of the Negro revolution, as well as a peaceful march of 25,000 people in Washington D.C., where he then delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech”.

Nobel Peace Prize

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King. Jr. was the youngest man in history to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  When notified of his selection, he announced that he would be dedicating his prize money of more than 50,000 dollars to the civil rights movement. 

On the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assigned in Memphis, Tennessee. 







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