Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, January 15.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an important spokesman for nonviolent protest in the civil rights movement. The campaign for a national holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968.
After years of public pressure, a bill was introduced in 1983 to create a federal holiday. A few Senators opposed the bill and questioned whether King was important enough to receive such an honor. They submitted a 300-page report to the Senate criticizing King's opposition to the Vietnam War and wrote that King had worked with Communists. New York Senator Moynihan declared the document a "packet of filth", threw it on the Senate floor and stomped on it.
President Reagan passed the holiday into law in late 1983, and people began observing it in 1986. At first, some states resisted the holiday. By 2000, it was officially observed in all 50 states.
In 1994, the holiday was changed by Congress into Martin Luther King Day of Service, a national day of community service. In honor of MLK, volunteers across the country are asked to donate their time to make a difference on this day.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" Americans across the country are asked to answer that question by coming together on Martin Luther King Day to serve their neighbors and communities.