Observed annually on the third Monday of January, the day is an American federal holiday marking the birth of Martin Luther King Jnr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American civil rights activist, born in Atlanta Georgia. He is best known for using non-violent and civil disobedience tactics to secure equal rights for African Americans.
One of King’s many achievements include the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1995 where King, together with other activists led a city-wide boycott of the bus service which lasted for 382 days where African Americans chose to walk to work.
The city of Montgomery suffered massive losses and eventually lifted the law requiring segregated public transportation for blacks and whites.
In February 1960, a group of African American students, inspired by King, organized a “sit-in” movement where they sat at racially segregated lunch counters. This led to an end to segregation in 27 cities in America.
Another of his achievements is the Great March on Washington in 1963 which he helped organize. The march attracted a crowd of more than 200,000 African Americans, before whom Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. In recognition of his pursuit of justice through peaceful and non-violent means, he received the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14,1964.
President Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King Day into law in 1983, 15 years after his assassination which happened in 1968.
It was observed for the first time three years later, on 20th January,1986.