It’s a day to honor the activist and minister Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated in 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first observed in 1986 and wasn’t celebrated in every state until 2000. The Congressional Black Caucus collected six million signatures to help it become a federal holiday.
Here is everything you need to know about what’s open and what’s closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021
People across America will remember and honor Rev. Martin Luther King today.
King was the most visible spokesperson and leader of the civil rights movement before being killed by an assassin on April 4, 1968.
MLK Day is a federal holiday, though it was not made official until 18 years after his assassination.
Efforts to honor King with a federal holiday began just months after his April 4, 1968 death. Those efforts failed, as did a 1979 vote by Congress that came after King's widow, Coretta Scott King, spoke out in favor of the day. Momentum for the holiday grew in 1980 when entertainer Stevie Wonder released "Happy Birthday" in King's honor, leading to a petition calling for MLK Day and, in 1983, House passage of a holiday bill.
Despite Senate objections, the King holiday passed the Senate and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. The first official Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed on the third Monday of January 1986. In the beginning only 27 states recognized the holiday.
In 2000, Utah became the last state to recognize MLK Day by name, the same year South Carolina became the final state to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid holiday for employees.
Here’s a look at some of MLK’s most inspirational quotes:
"It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"Let no man pull you low enough to hate him." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." — Martin Luther King Jr.
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right." — Martin Luther King Jr.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King. Jr.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." — Martin Luther King Jr.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”- - Martin Luther King Jr.
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Never, never be afraid to do what's right. Especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the ones we inflict on our soul when we look the other way." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"If I cannot do great things I can do small things in a great way." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy." — Martin Luther King Jr.
"That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King Jr.
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
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