How Martin Luther King Day is Celebrated Today

People often celebrate Martin Luther King Day by volunteering to help charitable causes, or by teaching children about Dr. King’s life and achievements. Unlike many other holidays, Martin Luther King Day is relatively new. That means there aren’t many established traditions surrounding the day, aside from the goal of promoting racial equality among all Americans.

Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday in the United States nearly three decades ago , but it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all 50 states recognized it as an official holiday. South Carolina was the last to officially recognize the day and provide paid holiday to all state employees. Before this, each employee had to choose between Martin Luther King Day and three other holidays.

In recent years, the holiday has become known as the Martin Luther King Day of Service. This new purpose for the holiday was started by Senator Harris Wofford and Congressman John Lewis, with the aim of following the ideals of Martin Luther King. King always promoted equality amongst all Americans, and by assisting charitable causes people can help further his ideals.

The idea is that people use their paid holiday to help others, either through working on community projects or taking part in charitable events. Citizen action groups often ask people to volunteer on Martin Luther King Day, along with charities and other worthy causes. There are many websites setup to help people find projects to join, and people of any age are welcome. Popular projects include helping in kitchens of homeless shelters and caring for senior citizens.

Students and pupils are often taught about Martin Luther King, Jr., including his life, achievements and the history of racial equality in the United States. Particular focus is given to the history of racial segregation. Many people believe it’s important for all children to know and understand the struggles of Dr. King and those who campaigned for racial equality, as this helps to promote respect and understanding.

There is a lot of variation in how the holiday is celebrated in different states. Some states recognize the day as an independent holiday, while others celebrate it in combination with other holidays. In Arizona, for example, the day is combined with Civil Rights Day. Some states also combine the holiday with the birthday of Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate army during the American Civil War.

History of Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King was one of the most important civil rights leaders in the history of the USA. On Martin Luther King Day, people celebrate his achievements, particularly his success in fighting for racial equality. The day is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year.

Who Was Martin Luther King?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the United States. King was a Baptist minister, but became passionate about civil rights early in his life. He was involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, for example, and committed to a number of equality causes throughout his lifetime.

King’s most famous speech has become known as the “I have a dream” speech, but this was just a small part of his campaigning to end racial inequality and segregation in the United States. His ability to rouse emotions and response through speech, however, was one of his biggest strengths.

King always advocated non-violent protests. For this reason, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and was the youngest person to be bestowed with this honor. King was assassinated in 1968, and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

History of Martin Luther King Day

In 1979, state senator Edward Brooke and US Representative John Conyers proposed that King’s birthday should be a national holiday. This initial vote failed by five votes, but the idea continued to be discussed by both Democrats and Republicans.

Today, it’s surprising to think that Congress voted against forming a holiday to celebrate King’s achievements. The two main reasons were the cost of paying employees for a holiday, and the idea that people who’d never held office shouldn’t have holidays in their honor. Other senators also argued that King didn’t achieve enough to be considered for such an important honor.

It wasn’t until 1983 that legislation was formalized to create a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Even then, some States refused to fully observe the holiday. It took until the year 2000 for all 50 states to formerly recognize the holiday.

In 1994 the day was designated as a “national day of service.” This differs from other holidays, as the organizers of Martin Luther King Day are keen to stress that it’s a “day on, not a day off.” As of 2007, around a third of employers give their employees the day off on Martin Luther King Day to pursue other forms of service.