Why Is Martin Luther King Day Celebrated?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created to celebrate the life and work of the Civil Rights Era leader. Dr. King’s work was instrumental in helping African-Americans secure their rights.

In addition to his work in civil rights, Dr. King also spoke up for the disadvantaged and impoverished. His stance of non-violence has helped to shape the way movements have been structured around the world. His day also serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done if a society in which everyone is equal and respected is to be achieved.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. It was not observed until 3 years later. Some states did not acknowledge the holiday for several years. In Arizona, Governor Bruce Babbitt used an executive order to create the holiday in 1986. However, the next government, Evan Mecham, rescinded the order. The first year that all 50 states recognized the holiday was in 2000. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed federal legislation that transformed the holiday into the Martin Luther King Day of Service. People are encouraged to volunteer in honor of Dr. King. There are some international cities that observe Dr. King’s day including Toronto, Canada.