This federal holiday is celebrated every 3rd Monday of January each year.
Martin Luther King, Jr in 1964.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was born on the 15th of January 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia and christened as Michael Luther King Jr but later changed his first name to Martin.
The King family has had a very long relationship with the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with Martin’s maternal grandfather serving as a pastor from 1914 to 1931 and after that his father also following in the family tradition, taking over from his father-in-law and remaining as the pastor since 1931 until his death in 1984.
Martin Luther King Jr also served as a co-pastor along with his father but due to his political work was away from the Atlanta church most of the time, as it was during this time that the United States had very different society to what it is today, with the blacks and whites being segregated on the road, at grocery lines, buses, schools and almost everywhere.
The brunt of this segregation was directed at the blacks who were denied their basic civil rights as an equal partner in the American society and this prompted Martin Luther King Jr to rise against the injustice, to lead in protest wherever discrimination was evident, of which there were many such instances, through his Civil Rights Movement that he formed to the consternation of the American Administration.
Martin Luther King Jr’s Civil Rights Movement which began in the mid 1950’s took the United States Administration by surprise initially due to the sheer amount of people he was able to congregate at any place just to listen to him speak and his famous crowd inspiring speech where he said “I have a dream” took the cake and from that time onwards there was no stopping him or the American Civil Rights Movement.
The United States Administration had to relent and his efforts bore fruit when the United States of America enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 both of which broke the manacles that had kept the American blacks subjugated and sidelined in their own society.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on April 4th 1968 when he stepped out onto his hotel room balcony in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray, who according to the FBI had acted alone.
After his assassination there was popular agitation to recognize what he had achieved for not only the black community in the United States but to all Americans to hold their heads high and walk as a proud nation and not as a country where one section of the populace discriminated against the other.
In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed the Executive order declaring that every third Monday of January every year would be commemorated as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day or officially as Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, and also decreed that it would be a Federal holiday and that is a fitting accolade bestowed on an icon of American society.