Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, is a national holiday that honors the leader of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. King was a Baptist minister from Georgia who, in the 1950s and 1960s, became an outspoken critic of racial segregation—the separation of black and white Americans in schools and other public institutions. King used nonviolent methods to draw attention to the mistreatment of African Americans.
His boycotts and marches helped bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal to discriminate by denying fair employment or public services. That year King received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. His work for civil rights continued throughout the 1960s. He also became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968; see here.
Four days later, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced a bill for a national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but it did not become law. For fifteen years, numerous groups and individuals pushed congress to pass MLK Day legislation. Finally, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a law making the third Monday in January Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
In 2006, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton joined civil rights leaders of all ages and generations at Washington’s National Mall to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. The King memorial, which opened to the public in 2011, features a monument and an arrangement of stones and trees, plus waterfalls designed to flow to the cadence of Dr. King’s speaking voice.
- Martin Luther King: Biographical
Read a brief biography of Martin Luther King from the Nobel Foundation. The Foundation awarded King the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute
Explore the wealth of materials on this interactive site about Martin Luther King, Jr. Includes documents, photographs, audio, and video. From The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Check out History.com’s resources on the life of Martin Luther King Jr.; includes photo galleries, videos, audio of speeches, and links to related articles on the civil rights movement and other topics.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
Learn more about making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a day where you make difference in your community by helping others.
- The Meaning of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
Read this 2008 essay by Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, to learn more about how she thought her husband should be remembered. Includes a link to a time line history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.