History (FactMonster)It took 15 years to create the federal Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Congressman John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan, first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday four days after King was assassinated in 1968. After the bill became stalled, petitions endorsing the holiday containing six million names were submitted to Congress.
Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Democrat of New York, resubmitted King holiday legislation each subsequent legislative session. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington.
Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. A compromise moving the holiday from Jan. 15, King's birthday, which was considered too close to Christmas and New Year's, to the third Monday in January helped overcome opposition to the law. The federal holiday went into affect in 1986.
Did you know? A number of states resisted making MLK Day a holiday. Arizona governor Evan Mecham rescinded MLK Day as his first act in office in 1986, setting off a boycott of the state.
MLK Day of Service
What better way to honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. than to roll up your sleeves and get involved in your community! This video from the Corporation for National and Community Service is sure to inspire you and their homepage provides links to community service projects in your area.
photo from writespirit.net
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools