When Did MLK Day Become a Federal Holiday?

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President Ronald Regan signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed as a national holiday in January, 1986. The holiday is observed annually on the third Monday in January.

Campaigning for a federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began shortly after his death in 1968. After the holiday was signed into law in 1983 and observance began in 1986, some states resisted observing the holiday by giving it other names or combining it with other holidays. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed by all 50 states in 2000.