Martin Luther King Jr Day – Don’t Let the Dream Die

Simran Rigzin
Simran is a constant work in progress and never says no to an opportunity. She loves writing and broadening the knowledge of vocabularies and use of language. She believes that there's always something to gain from experiences no matter how small they may be.

What is Martin Luther King Jr Day?

Martin Luther King Jr is one of the three people in whose honour the US has declared a national holiday. Born on the 15th of January 1929, Martin Luther made history as a leader who fought for Civil rights of the people and was against racial discrimination. His campaigns against racism saw him receive a Nobel Peace Prize at just the age of 35. Martin Luther King was a strong believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and brought about the most significant changes in the history of Black people as he stood against the wrongdoings with non-violent acts. He has delivered many inspiring speeches that are remembered by the world even today with his most famous one being ‘I have a Dream’. Martin Luther King Jr Day is celebrated every year in January on the third Monday since the year 1986. 15th of January which is also Martin’s birthday was celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr Day in 2018.

When is Martin Luther King Jr Day 2018?

The following is the date that the MLK Day has fallen in the past years and will fall in the coming ones.

YearMLK Day (Date)
2017Monday, January 16, 2017
2018Monday, January 15, 2018
2019Monday, January 21, 2019
2020Monday, January 20, 2020

A Brief History of Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr was born on January 15 in 1929 in Georgia and was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. He was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement since 1954 until his assassination in 1968


King was considered an excellent speaker from his college days as his words and speech had ways to move people. Martin Luther King Jr graduated from college at the young age of 19 from Morehouse College and also completed his PhD from Boston University in 1955.

His fight against racial discrimination began in 1955 with the Montgomery Bus Boycott surrounding the famous incident of racial segregation on a bus with Rosa Parks where she refused to give her seat to a white citizen and was arrested.

After he became the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he was involved in another movement against racial segregation called the Albany movement in 1961 which was followed by the Birmingham Campaign in 1963.

Another one of Luther’s most significant moment was the March on Washington in 1963 where he gave his 17- minute speech titled ‘I have a Dream’ in which he talks about an ‘Equal America’.

Almost 250,000 people attended the speech that he gave in Washington. In 1968, before his march for the poor people against Washington King was assassinated while on a motel balcony in Memphis by James Earl Ray.

Post-assassination and declaration of the Holiday

After King was assassinated, SCLC received a lot of donations to complete the campaign that was left incomplete by the death of Martin Luther King Jr. King’s death caused an anti-racist frenzy throughout the country with many riots breaking out.


Though many were angry and unhappy at the death of this leader, a bill for a holiday was signed and passed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and was celebrated officially for the first time only on April 20, 1986, and was fixed to the third Sunday of January post-George Bush’s declaration in 1992.

Facts about Martin Luther King Jr Day

  1. It took 32 years to commemorate this day as a national holiday throughout the country
  2. The very first MLK Jr Day was celebrated on April 20, 1986, where thousands of people lit candles, went to church and also marched in his honour
  3. This day is not just a holiday but a day of service where many Americans volunteer in service toward the needy
  4. Washington DC is home to a statue known as ‘The Stone of Hope’ built-in inside the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
  5. The first State who declared the holiday was Illinois in 1973 and the last was New Hampshire in 1999
  6. Stevie Wonder wrote and dedicated a song titled ‘Happy Birthday’ in 1980 in memory of Martin Luther King’s birthday, and this song became the song of all the rallies that went out in his name
  7. The petition for the commencement of Martin Luther King Jr Day was signed by six million people

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