By Beltha Mokube
Americans from all walks of life are celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. Day today; Monday January 21, 2019. Households shopped heavily over the weekend as they geared up to today’s event. Miranda Thompson, a teacher in Washington DC told National Telegraph she’s celebrating every moment of the day.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day also known as MLK Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday in January of every year, which is always around January 15, Martin Luther’s real birthday. Thompson also noted that the Day is however characterized by more of reflecting of the good things the Civil Liberty Activist has done.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 1968 in Memphis. Tennessee. After his death, U.S. Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) introduced a bill in Congress to make his birthday a National Holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979, falling short of five votes of the number needed to pass the legislation.
Despite arguments that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive adding to the fact that Martin Luther was a private citizen, Stevie Wonder’s Song; “Happy Birthday” in 1980 and the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981 with six million signatures collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, pushed the Martin Luther King Jr. Day to fusion.
Martin Luther would be remembered for his non-violent activism in the Civil Rights Movement that stood against racial discrimination in federal and state law. After numerous campaigns, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983 and in 1986, the first celebration was held. This American Baptist Minister born in Atlanta, Georgia is famous for the phrase; “I Have a Dream…”