Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Image of Dr. King


A Little History

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law, designating the third Monday in January a federal holiday in observance of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The legislation to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first introduced just four days after his assassination on April 4, 1968. However, it would take 15 years of persistence by civil rights activists for the holiday to be approved by the federal government and an additional 17 years for it to be recognized in all 50 states. Today, it is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer and improve their communities. 

This set of resources is designed to:
- Expand our collective understanding of the 32 years journey that led to the recognition of the King holiday in all 50 states
- Provide a more comprehensive picture of the social and political context surrounding Dr. King and his work
- Spotlight those who worked closely with Dr. King and played an instrumental role in the civil rights movement, although not all their names and stories are well-known
- Provide additional resources (primary sources and videos) and lesson plans to enrich the content that is currently being taught

Did you Know?

  1. Dr. King's name at birth was Michael. The civil rights activist was born Michael King, Jr. His father, Michael King, Sr. visited Germany in 1934 and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader, Martin Luther. King Sr. began calling himself and eventually, his son- Martin Luther King.
  2. From 1957 to 1968, King traveled over 6 million miles and spoke over 2500 times.
  3. There are approximately 900 streets named after MLK in the U.S. Seventy percent of the streets can be found in Southern states, including Alabama, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. 
  4. Dr. King won a Grammy posthumously for Best Spoken Word Recording at the 13th Grammy Awards in 1971 for "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam." He was nominated for a Grammy twice before he won this award. 

Additional Fun Facts about Martin Luther King, Jr.

2023 Martin Luther King Day Activities and Events in the Philadelphia Area

The History of the Holiday

The Social and Political Context of the King's Work

Books About Martin Luther King, Jr.