Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. 2011Monday, January 17
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States honoring the achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr. - the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement to end racial segregation. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is close to January 15, the King's birthday.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the most influential of African American civil rights leaders during the 1960s, he was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and employment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The bill established the holiday was signed by the President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983. The first observance nationwide was in 1986, but some states opposed to observed it as a paid holiday for state employees. As of the year 2000 all of the states officially recognize the holiday.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the only three people who have national holidays in the USA, the other two are Christopher Columbus and George Washington.