Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.


  • In general: the third Monday in January
  • 2011 date: January 17
  • 2012 date: January 16
  • 2013 date: January 21
  • 2014 date: January 20
  • 2015 date: January 19


This United States federal holiday marks the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which was on January 15, 1929. King was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The Movement successfully protested against racial discrimination in federal and state law. King is often presented as a heroic leader in the history of modern American liberalism. In 1963, he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he expanded American values to include the vision of a colour blind society, and established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated in Tennessee. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honour began soon after his assassination. Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983. It was first observed on January 20, 1986.

Traditional observance

Around one third of employers give employees the day off. The observance is most popular amongst nonprofit organisations and least popular among factories and manufacturers. There are various reasons for this: for instance, the holiday had quite recently been added. Also, its occurrence is just two weeks after the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, when many businesses are closed for part or sometimes all of the week. Many schools and places of higher education are closed for classes; others remain open but may hold seminars or celebrations of King's message. Some factories and manufacturers use MLK Day as a floating or movable holiday.

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