Martin Luther King Day is an American national holiday celebrated on the third Monday of January. It is a commemoration of Martin Luther King who spent his life working for racial equality.
He was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. Following his father's footsteps he was ordained a minister in 1947, but soon became the most prominent figure of the civil rights movement. He organized and lead many activities throughout the country and was known for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance.
During 1950's and 1960's he was imprisoned several times. In 1963 he headed a march in Washington bringing together 200 000 people and a year later received a Nobel Prize for Peace. He was killed on April 4, 1968 on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel which became Civil Rights Museum in 1991.
Long before a day was officially designated for honoring life and work of Martin Luther King African Americans celebrated his birthday as a holiday.
After a lengthy dispute over the proposal for a holiday in his honor, President Reagan passed the bill in 1983. The idea was opposed on the grounds that only two individuals in American history were honored by a holiday in their name (George Washington and Christopher Columbus), and many thought that there were other people more deserving to be celebrated in this way. Finally, on January 20, 1986 the first national celebration of Martin Luther King took place and has become a yearly event since.