How MLK Day Became a Holiday

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech to huge crowd gathered for the Mall in Washington DC during the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom (aka the Freedom March). (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Source: Time

Legislation designating the national holiday was passed in 1983

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day is no long-standing tradition. The holiday is a little more than three decades old, and its establishment was no sure thing. Here’s how the occasion became as central to January in America as New Year’s resolutions.

Beginning almost immediately after King’s assassination, members of Congress proposed that his birthday ought to be a national holiday, but bills mandating the occasion went nowhere. The effort received more publicity when, after about a decade, shortly after the failure of a bill that was introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan in September of 1979, Stevie Wonderreleased a song called “Happy Birthday.” Despite its cheery title, it was specifically meant to make a case for the holiday, calling out anyone who didn’t support the idea:

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan came into office, and he was reluctant to support the idea.

As TIME reported in February of 1982, his administration early on had trouble with a “sensitivity gap” when it came to minorities and women. When his Chief of Staff James Baker proposed a committee to try to fix that, one of the questions TIME suggested they might consider was the matter of MLK Day. “Until now the White House has been noncommittal,” TIME’s Laurence I. Barrett wrote. “The reason says something about this Administration’s isolation from the nation’s largest minority. An official explains that the White House has appeared so indifferent to other pleas involving racial matters that embracing the national holiday idea would seem condescending.”

By the following summer, however, it was clear that some version of the holiday bill was sure to pass. (It had been reintroduced in July, by Rep. Katie Hall of Indiana.) “Faced with inevitable congressional passage of a bill to make Martin Luther King‘s birthday a national holiday, Reagan swallowed his longstanding objections that this would open the door to many other groups seeking similar holidays and decided that he would support the measure,” TIME’s Walter Isaacson wrote. Furthermore, the next election season was already beginning. Though the Reagan campaigndidn’t hope to win among black voters in 1984, making a grand gesture out of Martin Luther King Jr. Day could appeal to more moderate white voters.

Sure enough, that fall, King was granted an honor that had, until that time, belonged only to George Washington. Congress passed a bill designating his birthday as a national holiday, to be celebrated on the third Monday in January, starting in 1986.

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1 reply

  1. A GOOD MUSLIM SHOULD PRAY FOR MLK.

    Martin Luther King Jr is angel man. Allah sent him to earth to apply or implement Allah’s commandment such as;

    Proverb 31:8. Speak up for people who can not speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.speak for them and be a righteous judge.protect the right of the poor and needy.

    Psalm 103 ;6.
    God judges favor of the oppressed and gives them their rights.He revealed His plans to Moses and let the people of Israel see His mighty deeds. God is merciful and loving.

    QS 4:75. And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help.

    To day millions people around the world can live in honor, integrity. Everyone has equal, regadless his religion, race, color, and gender.

    We should be thankful to MLK for his sacrifice for humanity

    May Allah give him Paradise and his family.Amen.

    We love MLK, Allah bless America.
    All love

    READ MORE ;
    why Allah bless America?
    Why do millions Muslims love to live in America?

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1saUrjQZa_5efPgfjGFbJ8YJ-SHgTS0k2tqgOPUmhBEY/edit?usp=sharing

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