On Nov. 2, 1983 a federal holiday was declared in honor of the great civil rights activist. In the bill signed by President Ronald Reagan, every third Monday of January would from then on be observed as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Atlanta-native was born in 1929 to a family of Baptist pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. His studies took him from Morehouse College where he received a B.A. to Boston University where he got his Doctorate degree in Theology. He met his wife, Coretta Scott, during his stay in Boston.
Before delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech—his most famous address—at the March on Washington, King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. He approached his activism by encouraging nonviolent civil disobedience, though faced violence in response to many of his protests. During his unwavering involvement in the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed and 24th Amendment was ratified. Later in 1964 he donated his award money from winning the Nobel Peace Prize to the civil rights movement, a $54,600 gift.
His continued work in civil rights was cut short when King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968. Four days after his death, the first legislation seeking a Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday was made by Congressman John Conyers and 15 years later the holiday was solidified by President Reagan.
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(Photo: AP Photo/File)