5 Facts About The MLK Holiday

Every year, we celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Here’s a quick glance at how the holiday came to be.

· The bill to make Dr. King’s birthday a Federal holiday was first introduced to Congress in 1979. The bill fell five votes short of being passed.

· In the 1980’s Dr. King’s widow, Coretta would help lead the effort for the holiday at the King Center. Singer Stevie Wonder released a rendition of “Happy Birthday” on his 1980 album Hotter Than July. The single was a tribute to Dr. King and helped galvanize the effort for a King Holiday.

· In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill turning King’s birthday into a holiday. The first observance of the King Holiday took place on January 20th, 1986. The holiday was not officially recognized in all fifty states until 2000. The MLK holiday is celebrated internationally in several cities including Toronto and Hiroshima.

· The King Holiday takes place annually on the third Monday in January to coincide with King’s birthday, January 15th. Since its inception, the holiday has only fallen on the day of King’s actual birthday five times.

· The King Holiday is now known as a day of community service and encourages volunteer service nationally in King’s honor.

Contributed by Brittani Riddle


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I am a digital content creator and have worked in the digital space for more than ten years. "Robinrazzi" is a nickname given from a former colleague because I'm known for having a camera in hand at all times. I have traveled the world covering entertainment events, celebrities and anything trending. I earned my BA in Communications from Penn State and a MS in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University. I currently serve as Director of Digital Content for WHUR and the Howard University Radio Network.

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