Martin Luther King Day

Third Monday in January

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is ranked among the greatest of black Americans because of his crusade during the 1950s and 1960s to win full civil rights for his people.


Rev. Dr. King, Jr. was a black Civil Rights leader who preached non-violence and who spoke out and campaigned tirelessly to rid the US of traditions and laws that forced on black Americans the status of second-class citizens.

1956 he led a 382-day boycott in Montgomery, Alabama that brought a US Supreme Court decision holding segregation on buses unconstitutional.

1957 he founded and became the president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed, guaranteeing equal rights in housing, public facilities, voting and public schools. Everyone would have impartial hearings and jury trials. A civil rights commission would ensure that these laws were enforced. In the same year Rev. Dr. King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent civil rights demonstrations.
April 4, 1968 he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee while leading a workers’ strike.


The only federal public holiday commemorating an African-American. First celebrated on Jan. 20, 1969 in Atlanta, Georgia. For many years Jan. 15 (his birthday) was observed as a public holiday in 27 states and Washington DC. In the 80s, there was a controversy over to make it a federal public holiday on Jan. 15, or on the day he died, or not make it a holiday at all.

1986 President Ronald Reagan declared the 3rd Mon. in Jan. a federal public holiday.

**In Virginia the day is called Lee-Jackson-King Day.