Here's to the Celebration of MLK Day!!!
MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY
and / or
The Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- often
called Martin Luther King Day -- is a United
States federal holiday marking the birth date of the
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., observed
on the third Monday of January each year (which
is around the time of King's birthday, January 15)
It is the only federal holiday in the United
States that commemorates a person of the
African-American Ethnic group -- and one of
only four to commemorate an individual person.
Martin Luther King Day was founded as a holiday
promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations.
After King's death in 1968, Rep. John Conyers
introduced a bill in Congress to make King's
birthday a national holiday, highlighting
King's activism on behalf of trade unionists.
Unions did most of the promotion for
the holiday throughout the 1970s.
In 1976, trade unionists also helped to elect
Jimmy Carter, who endorsed the King Day bill.
After that endorsement, the union influence
in the King holiday campaign declined, and
the King Center turned to support from the
corporate community and the general public.
The success of this strategy was cemented when
musician Stevie Wonder released the single
"Happy Birthday" to popularize the campaign
in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press
Conference in 1981. 6 million signatures were
collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law,
termed by a 2006 The Nation article as "...the
largest petition in favor of an issue in US history."
Opposition to the bill was led by Senator Jesse
Helms, who questioned whether King was
"important enough" to receive such an honor.
President Ronald Reagan was
also opposed to the holiday.
He relented in his opposition only after Congress
passed the King Day Bill with an overwhelming,
veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of
Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate).
At the White House Rose Garden on
November 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill
creating a federal holiday to honor King.
It was observed for the first
time on January 20, 1986.
On January 17, 2000, for the first time,
Martin Luther King Day was officially
observed in all 50 U.S. states.
The day is marked by demonstrations
for peace, social justice and racial and
class equality, and is also a national
day of volunteer community service.
On January 16, 2006 Greenville County ,
South Carolina [is said to have been] the
last county in the U.S. to officially adopt
Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday.
In Utah, Martin Luther King Day is also
known as Human Rights Day; similarly, in
Arizona and New Hampshire, Martin Luther
King Day is also known as Civil Rights Day.
Although the day is both a federal holiday and,
thus also a state holiday in all states, it is usually
not observed by very small private companies
(except for banks) -- and small shops, grocery
stores and restaurants do tend to remain open.
Some large corporations close their operations --
more so than on Veterans Day or Columbus Day
(which are also federal holidays) but less so than
on holidays such as Memorial Day or Labor Day
when virtually all of the corporations are closed.
Additionally, some schools and places of
higher education are closed for classes;
others remain open but may hold seminars
or celebrations of Dr. King's message.
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