Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Submitted: January 20, 2020

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Submitted: January 20, 2020

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Each year on the third Monday of January, The United States observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Born Michael Luther King, Jr. on January 15, 1929 (later changing his name) he the first and only American private citizen to have a national holiday named after him.  Dr. King is recognized for his tireless work as a leader during the civil rights movement, his commitment to nonviolence and winning desegregation and voting rights for African Americans.

After his death in 1968, there were differing opinions about how Dr. King should be remembered.  To those  familiar with his non-violent leadership of the civil rights, it made sense to celebrate him. But for others, the idea that Dr. King, a black minister who was denigrated during his life and then shot at the age of just 39 did not make sense.

U.S. House of Representative John Conyers and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the US House of Representatives in 1979.  It fell short by five votes of the number needed to pass. There were two main issues discussed by opponents.  First, that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive and second, that a holiday to honor a private citizen would go against a longstanding tradition, since Dr. King never held public office. Only two other figures, at that time, had national holidays honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall from Indiana and overwhelmingly passed by both Houses of Congress, that created a federal holiday honoring Dr. King.  The holiday was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.  It took 32 years after his death and 14 years after the first day of observance for all 50 states to finally observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Ric Stevens. All rights reserved.

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