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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day  

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Campaign for the Martin Luther King Day Federal Holiday

Before the battle was won to create a federal holiday, 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. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as "the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history."  (Jones, William P. (January 30, 2006). "Working-Class Hero"The Nation. Retrieved 1.16.15).

Stevie Wonder, "Happy Birthday to Ya," Uploaded on Dec 9, 2007, From album  "Hotter Than July" released 1980,YouTube, retrieved 1.20.15


The Origin of Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, January 15.

After Dr. Martin Luther King's assasination in 1968. United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. 

President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

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