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The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Saloni Kainth, Staff Writer

President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill on November 2nd, 1983 to officially celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King’s birthday is on January 15th, but Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January. On April 4, 1968, Mrs. King mourned the loss of her husband after he had been shot by an assassin. Some time later, the King Memorial Center held an observance of King’s birthday in January 1969. This observance was held way before it became an official holiday, almost a decade and a half before.

Three years later, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference presented a petition signed by more than 3 million people to celebrate King’s birthday. It didn’t gain enough support to become a holiday and lingered in Congress for 8 years. Later on, President Jimmy Carter vowed to officially support a King holiday. After gaining some support from President Carter, Mrs. King, Coretta, organized a nationwide meeting to support the bill. However, in November 1979, the bill wasn’t published because it lost by only five votes in Congress.

Along with the singer Stevie Wonder, they presented another petition that was signed by 6 million people. Their petition was approved and it came out with a vote of 338 to 90 in the House of Representatives. However, the bill had a harder time in the Senate. Some senators didn’t want the holiday to be approved and expressed their rage over it in the court. The bill still had a victory and was therefore observed on the third Monday in January 1986. This is the history behind Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

 

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The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day