Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Day to honor the life and legacy of the great civil rights leader. Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday in January, close to his birthday on January 15.
Martin Luther King was a champion of nonviolent protest during the civil rights movement. The campaign to create a federal holiday in King’s honor began just days after his assassination in 1968. In 1981, a petition urging Congress to pass the law collected a record six million signatures. President Ronald Regan signed the federal holiday into law in 1983. It was first observed in all 50 states in 2000.
Outside the United States, Martin Luther King Day is also recognized in the Japanese city of Hiroshima and the Canadian city of Toronto.