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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorated every third Monday in January to celebrate the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, an influential African-American civil rights movement leader.
See the fact file below for more information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Martin Luther King, Jr. Day worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- On January 15, 1929, Michael King, Jr. was born to Michael King, Sr., a Baptist pastor who traveled to Germany and was inspired by the reformist Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his name as well as his son’s.
- At the age of 15, Martin Luther King, Jr. entered Morehouse College. While growing up, he witnessed how the Jim Crow Laws segregated white and black people in public places. Moreover, African-Americans were denied the right to participate in elections. By 1955, he earned his doctorate degree at Boston University.
- In 1955, King Jr. first emerged in the Civil Rights Movement after the Rosa Parks incident. Rosa Parks was arrested when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. King, along with other African-American leaders, organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted for 381 days. After the boycott, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation was unconstitutional.
- As an activist, King was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in employing non-violent protests.
- In 1963, MLK delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech which became one of the famous speeches in the history of the United States. His dream was a society wherein both black and white people can live peacefully.
- After a year, he became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in outlawing racial segregation and discrimination.
- In 1968, MLK was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis. James Earl Ray was arrested for his murder and was imprisoned for life until his death in 1998.
- After MLK’s death, campaigns emerged for a public holiday to honor his birthday. Trade unions led the campaign until it was endorsed in 1976. In 1983, after six million signatures, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into a law.
- Three years later, the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed in some states. In 2000, all states commemorated this day to honor the influential African-American Civil Rights Movement leader.
MLK DAY OBSERVANCES
- Civil Rights Day to commemorate the movement rather than King alone.
- On this day, Americans promote equal rights regardless of background. In schools, it is the time for teachers to educate the pupils about the contribution of Martin Luther King, Jr as well as racial segregation and discrimination in the United States.
- Some universities and colleges in the US extend Christmas break until MLK Day.
- Moreover, some spend this day in volunteer centers as a day of service. It was President Bill Clinton who signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act making it a national day of humanitarian service.
- In Chicago, a number of museums with exhibits highlighting MLK’s life and legacy are open free of admission fees for Illinois residents. Some host poetry readings and musical performances with themes about MLK’s dream.
- In Cleveland, Ohio, programs including film screenings and musical performances about the Civil Rights Movements are organized each year.
- During this day, about 500 national parks are open for free. MLK Day is one of four times a year in which these entrance fees are waived.
- In Washington, D.C, many locals visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall where the March on Washington was culminated.
- Two of the biggest annual parades honoring MLK are held in Florida and Colorado. Various programs fostering multiculturalism and King’s dream are open for huge crowds.
- In Denver, Martin Luther King, Jr. Marade (combination of a march and parade) became a tradition to commemorate his life and achievements.
ADDITIONAL MLK DAY FACTS
- Other than Martin Luther King, Jr., there are only two individuals with national holidays honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.
- Congressman John Conyers of Michigan first proposed a bill to honor King just four days after the assassination, but it was not passed until 1983.
- Former slave holding states initially rescinded the holiday because it coincided with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday.
- Other than the United States, MLK Day is also celebrated in Hiroshima, Japan; Toronto, Canada; and Holland.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Martin Luther King Jr. Day across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Martin Luther King Jr. Day worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Martin Luther King Jr. Day which is a federal holiday in the United States commemorated every third Monday in January to celebrate the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, an influential African-American civil rights movement leader.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Facts
- Knowing MLK
- Men of Federal Holidays
- Flight of Civil Rights
- Luther’s Dream
- Figures and Freedom
- On MLK Day
- Truth About MLK
- My Dream Like Dr. King
- Civil Rights Today
- A Day of Service
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States that honors the birthday and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. It is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year.
Why is Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrated?
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated to honor the contributions and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. He was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. His efforts and message helped to end the legal segregation of African Americans in the United States, among many other achievements.
What are some activities that are done on Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many people participate in community service, volunteer work, and other activities to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Communities and organizations often hold parades, marches, and other events to commemorate the holiday. Schools and universities also often hold special assemblies or educational events to teach about Dr. King’s life and legacy.
When did Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday?
Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1986, it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
How is Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrated internationally?
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not officially recognized as a holiday in many countries outside of the United States. However, his message of equality, nonviolence, and human rights are celebrated and recognized in many countries. Some countries have their own day to remember the civil rights leader, such as in the United Kingdom, where the King Day is celebrated on the nearest Sunday to his birthday.
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Use With Any Curriculum
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