Martin Luther King Jr Day – History and Importance
Martin Luther King Jr Day is a holiday that celebrates the life and achievements of the iconic Martin Luther King. An American civil rights leader, the spokesman is still remembered for his campaigns for racial awareness and equality in the United States.
When Is Martin Luther King Jr Day?
Martin Luther King Jr Day is held on the third Monday of January each year. For example, we celebrated Martin Luther King Day 2016 on the 18th of January. That’s when we said “Happy Martin Luther King Day!”.
This particular time period was not chosen by coincidence. Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15, 1929.
Is Martin Luther King Day a Federal Holiday?
Yes, Martin Luther King Jr Day is a federal holiday. Federal holidays are authorized holidays that have been recognized by the United States government.
Martin Luther King Jr Day became a federal holiday in 1983 and holds the title of the most recently established holiday.
Are Banks Open on Martin Luther King Day?
Because it is a federal holiday, most banks will be closed on Martin Luther King Jr Day. However, those who have smart ATMs are able to make deposits and transfers, but these actions won’t be reflected until the next day, on Tuesday. It is advised to take care of any urgent banking business prior to the holiday.
While open banks are hard to find, there are exceptions. TD Bank, for example, keeps its branches open on Martin Luther King Jr Day. People can also try their luck with banks located in retail outlets.
Is the Post Office Open on Martin Luther King Day?
No, post offices are not open on Martin Luther King Jr Day. No businesses nor homes will get mail on the third Monday of January. This counts out USPS packages as well.
However, chances are that FedEx and USP will remain open, so you could get your packages delivered even on this particular holiday.
Who Was Martin Luther King?
Martin Luther King was an influential leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism that successfully protested against racial discrimination in federal and state law.
Going back to where it all began, Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His educational path took him to segregated public schools, and he received a B.A. degree from a traditionally black college.
It all changed when he enrolled in the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. This was an integrated school comprised primarily of white students. Nonetheless, he was elected president of his senior class. This was his first significant achievement in many more to come.
Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was also selected as Man of the Year by Time magazine. His eloquence as a speaker and a fearless determination to establish racial equality helped him gain a worldwide following.
His “I Have a Dream” speech is still frequently quoted. It is considered to be among the most powerful and sensible speeches in American history. The Nobel Prize lecture and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” are also among the most appreciated orations and writings in the English language.
His accomplishments are now taught in schools to American students of all races. His work as an activist has lead to significant achievements. After serving as a spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public transport was unconstitutional.
He also led a coalition of numerous civil rights groups in a campaign aimed at Birmingham, Alabama. The result was the push unprecedented civil rights legislation in “the most segregated city in America”.
Martin Luther King was a driving force behind the March for Jobs and Freedom. It was here that he delivered the world-famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
He was also involved in the March on Washington. The outcome was the passing of the Civil Rights Act. This landmark piece of civil rights legislation made it illegal to discriminate against African Americans or other minorities.
Unfortunately, Martin Luther King Jr.’s nearly thirteen years of non-violent leadership ended on April 4, 1968. He was assassinated on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
It was shortly after the influential activist died that a campaign pushing to make his birthday a holiday was started. The legislation for a commemorative holiday was first introduced just four days after Martin Luther King’s death. Over six million people signed the petitions endorsing the holiday.
It took fifteen years to create the federal Martin Luther King Jr Day. The Congress passed the federal holiday legislation in 1983. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The holiday had to be moved from the 15th of January to the third Monday of the same month because it was considered to be too close to Christmas. Yet thanks to this compromise we can now celebrate the life of this iconic personality on Martin Luther King Jr Day.
Martin Luther King Day 2017 will be celebrated on the 16th of January.