January 18, 2021 is a United States federal holiday that marks and celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the 3rd Monday of each year. Dr. King's actual birthday is actually January 15th.
Coretta Scott King, wife of the slain civil rights leader, staged the first observance of King's birthday. Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) was the first to introduce it as a congressional bill that would establish Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday. The bill failed and following the failure, six million signatures were obtained and submitted to the U.S. Congress. Conyers and Representative Shirley Chisholm (D-New York) would resubmit the multiple times before it finally passed following the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington , DC.
On November 2, 1983, Ronald Reagan signed the bill making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday, but the journey was not without a fight. January 20,1986, marked the first official observance and celebration Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday.
It is a day set aside to observe Dr. King's life and legacy as a Civil Rights leader, scholar, pastor and activist. It is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Americorps has been charged with leading this effort for the last 25 years.
Born: January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia
Died: April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee
Cause of Death: Assassination
Occupation: Civil Rights Activist, Pastor, Humanitarian, Nobel Laureate
Buried: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park
Spouse: Coretta Scott King
Education: Morehouse College, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (1948)
Crozer Theological Seminary, Bachelor of Divinity (1951)
Boston University, Ph.D. (1955)
Awards: Nobel Peace Prize, 1964
Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1977
Congressional Gold Medal, 2004