Civil Rights Movements
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a Baptist minister who advocated the end of racial segregation by nonviolent means. King first came to national prominence in Montgomery, Alabama when he led the first major nonviolent demonstration against segregation when an African American woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery city bus. This prompted a 382-day boycott of the public buses and led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on public buses unconstitutional.
In the spring of 1963, King coordinated the Birmingham Campaign in which he and black supporters staged sit-ins at white-owned lunch counters. In August 1963, King organized the March on Washington, which saw more than 250,000 people in attendance at the National Mall. This march was the catalyst for the introduction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. President Lyndon Johnson later signed the Civil Rights Act into law, thereby ending segregation in public places and banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Establishing MLK Day
King is the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday, though not everyone was in favor of this idea. The call for a day honoring King came days after his assassination in 1968 when John Conyers, a Democratic Congressman from Michigan, entered a bill to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That effort failed, but Conyers continued to fight, enlisting the help of co-sponsors and the Congressional Black Caucus, introducing the same bill year after year and Congress after Congress.
It took until 1983, but a bill recognizing the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day was finally passed and signed by President Ronald Reagan.
The first federal holiday was celebrated in 1986, but it wasn’t until 2000 that every state recognized the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Britannica.com
The Fight for Martin Luther King Jr., Day, History.com
MLK Day 2020: What to know about the civil rights icon’s legacy, ABC News