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Each year on the third Monday of January across the world, people reflect on the work that Martin Luther King Jr. Began towards racial equality. It is a time to reflect and be proactive on civil right issues around the globe. Dr King was an influential civil rights leader widely known for his work on racial equality and ending racial segregation in the United States. His life and achievements are remembered and celebrated on this day.  

The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labour unions. After king's death, U.S. Representatives John Conyers and U.S. senator Edward Brooke 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 the passage. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for the federal employees would be too expensive and that a holiday to honour a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition, as King never held public office. At the time, only two other figures had national holidays honouring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.  

Soon after, the King Centre looked for support from corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single 'Happy Birthday' to popularise the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition for Congress to pass the law and is considered the largest petition in favour of an issue in the U.S. history.  

President Reagan originally opposed the holiday, citing cost concerns, but on November 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall, to create a federal holiday for King. The bill had passed the Senate by a count of 78 to 22, and the House of Representatives by 338 to 90. The holiday was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. It's observed on the third Monday of January rather than directly on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday because it follows the guidelines if the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.  


Third Monday of every January every year. January 16th, 2023.


Martin Luther King Jr Day

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