Martin Luther King Jr. Day: More Than Just a Day Off

Alex Volkerijk, Writer

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday celebrated every year on the third Monday in January. Everyone knows MLK Day as a day off of school. But do we really know what significance the holiday has?

The History of The Holiday

The holiday celebrates King’s legacy of non-violent protesting and the fight for civil rights. Immediately after King’s death in 1968, there were calls for a holiday to celebrate his life and legacy. After a landslide petition of 6 million signatures was collected to make Congress pass the bill into law, and much campaigning and public support, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into a national holiday on November 2, 1983, by President Ronald Reagan.

Who was Martin Luther King Jr?

In the Civil Rights movement, he rose to prominence when he led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and led the 1963 march on Washington, where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. Martin Luther King Jr. was a figurehead in the civil rights movement and was instrumental in having the Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed, which made discrimination in public facilities illegal, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

His Legacy

King’s message lasts even today, as the movement for civil rights for everyone continues now and into the future. His example shows us how anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or political ideology, should stand up to discrimination of any kind.

His legacy of civil rights activism and peaceful protesting will forever be remembered, and it is why on every third Monday in January, the whole nation takes a day of remembrance to honor what he did for the country.