Students have the day off, employees are off from work (most). We take this day to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a man that worked tirelessly for us to have rights as other Americans. Do we know how this day came to be a national holiday?
On November 3rd, 1983, President Reagan signed a bill that established the 3rd Monday of every January as the Martin Luther King Jr National Holiday that would begin in 1986.
On January 20th, 1986 – the first National King Holiday was observed. At this time, only 17 states had official King Holidays.
June 7th, 1999 – Governor Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire signed the King National legislation into law, completing the enactment of the holiday in all states.
Today, the King holiday is celebrated in U.S. installations and is observed by local groups in more than 100 other nations. Trinidad and other nations have also established a holiday in honor of Dr. King.
The King Holiday should highlight remembrance and celebration and should encourage people everywhere to reflect on the principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. It should be a day of community and humanitarian service, and interracial cooperation.
The King Holiday should be a day of which the majority of local and state governments close, and one on which private organizations and the majority of businesses honor Dr. King by encouraging their employees to undertake community service work to address social needs.
The King Holiday should officially and appropriately be observed by the United Nations and its members. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who severed as Chair, Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission and Founding President of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is quoted as saying:
“As a nation chooses its heroes and heroines, a nation interprets its history and shapes its destiny. The commemoration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. can help America realize its true destiny as the global model for democracy, economic and social justice, and as the first nonviolent society in human history.”