The Unites States observes a national holiday for only three personalities namely George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. On the third Monday in the month of January, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated in order to pay tribute to his legacy. The fight for the national holiday was not easy and it required numerous commitments. The struggle required a lot of long-term determination and a lot of persistence.
The Story Behind the Holiday
King was assassinated in 1968 and the legislature required fifteen long years in order to grant a national holiday. Only in 1986 the federal holiday in the honor of King was commemorated. Numerous leaders across generations have been inspired by works of Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggle for the universal recognition of the day has not yet been completed.
Soon after King was assassinated in April 1968, the call for a national holiday was announced. The call was introduced by congressman John Conyers four days after the leader was shot, but the Congress had not bothered to take any action. Conyers had kept on introducing the bill every year for the next fifteen years and every year he had gained more and more sponsors.
Contributions of the Public
The public signatures were gathered and the country was filled with debates, discussions and petition drives. In 1971, the Congress was presented with a petition to declare the holiday and the petition had contained around three million signatures but the Congress had taken no action.
Initiative Taken by the Wife of King
By 1970s the CBC had collected around six million signatures and the calls for the national holiday were increasing and the holiday bill was endorsed by President Jimmy Carter. Coretta Scott king, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. had launched a national campaign in order to gather the support of the public. She had delivered numerous speeches to the Congress and had held rallies across the country prior to the fifteenth death anniversary of the leader. In order to celebrate the life of the leader, Wonder had released his new song Happy Birthday.
The Announcement of the Holiday
After the fifteenth death anniversary of King, the bill was again introduced in the Congress and the bill was passed the next day and the signature of the President Ronald Regan turned it into a law.
Even today the Martin Luther King Day continues to face resistance along with the struggles for the ideals which King strove for.