Martin Luther King Day


Nikki Yamamoto, Staff Writer

Martin Luther King Jr. is a significant factor in the mitigation of prejudice and segregation. Known as a hero to many, his various nonviolent protests, speeches, and interactions still have a lasting impact on such matters today. Leading the Poor People’s Campaign, becoming the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and being awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize are various achievements this figure has made. Presently, we have celebrated every third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So, what caused King to participate in campaigns, and how did this holiday come to be?

Beginning on January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, received Martin Luther King Jr. into the world. Born into a middle class family, he was able to learn the principles of civil rights and the regime of nonviolent campaigns through his father, the minister. Martin Luther King Sr. contributed to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also recognized as the NAACP. Learning from his father and learning from his teachers at school, King nevertheless faced several events relating to discrimination, and was much changed by what he discovered before him. During his early childhood, his friends’ parents began to evade any opportunity that King had to play with their children, as they were of different skin colors. He discovered that he and his white playmates diverged into different elementary schools. Riding a bus back home after winning an oratory contest, he was begrudged to stand whilst white people were given his seat. To discourage any further advancements in such segregated behaviors, Martin Luther King Jr. began his career and journey in the world of politics and prejudice. 

Endeavoring to celebrate the continual contributions Martin Luther King Jr. has made to our present society, in 1983 President Ronald Reagan deamed it a holiday by law. Although there was some disaccord from certain areas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was made official and celebrated by all states in 2000. As for the date upon celebration, January 15th was King’s birthday. However, as seen this year in 2023, this federal holiday was instead celebrated on the 16th. This is due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, put into action by President Lyndon B Johnson on the first of January in 1971. To be in accordance with this Act, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was moved to the Monday closest to the official date of occurrence. During this time, many banks and businesses close, and schools are given a long weekend off. 

Through his childhood experiences, influences, and education, Martin Luther King Jr. derived the motivation and encouragement to struggle for what he believed just. His achievements have earned him an official holiday in which we still continue to celebrate. Countless people were liberated from the suppression and segregation of his times, giving Martin Luther King Jr. Day a special meaning to many.