After 10 years of wrangling, Congress passed a bill to observe Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ("MLK")'s birthday as a federal holiday in the USA. MLK Day was first observed, in this way, in 1986. Since then, annual presidential proclamations have (most recently, Presidential Proclamation -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 2015 | The White House ) announced the date on which this floating holiday - scheduled similarly to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act - will occur and reinforced the occasion's purpose.
As noted in Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, MLK Day is also observed in some other countries, as well, where - ironically - more enthusiasm is shown for honoring the slain civil rights leader - 1963's TIME Man of the year - than in some American states, which have combined commemorations of Dr. King's birthday with decidedly incongruous remembrances:
- In Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as "Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Birthday".
- In Arkansas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee’s Birthdays".
- In Mississippi, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is known as "Martin Luther King's and Robert E. Lee's Birthdays".
- In Virginia, it was known as Lee–Jackson–King Day, combining King's birthday with the established Lee–Jackson Day. The incongruous nature of the holiday, which simultaneously celebrated the lives of Confederate Army generals and a civil rights icon, did not escape the notice of Virginia lawmakers. In 2000, Lee–Jackson Day was moved to the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday in its own right.
Q: What sort of remembrances will mark MLK Day 2015?
A: Some are specific to MLK, others address the broader topics of African American History and Civil Rights in the USA. Examples include:
- Articles, such as this quick, worthwhile read: "Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 5 Things You Should Know"
- Books on the topic abound: see Goodreads search results for Martin Luther King Day, and Fresh Air's Terry Gross marked the day by interviewing Eric Foner, Author of Gateway To Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad : NPR
- So do events (e.g., parades and other events listed in the news and in The President and First Lady, Vice President Biden, Cabinet Secretaries, and Senior Administration Officials Honor Marti…), movies (e.g., Selma - which was snubbed in the 2015 Oscar nominations but for which President Obama hosted a special screening at the White House), TV shows (e.g., The Book of Negroes - incidentally, a Canadian production based on a book by Canadian author Lawrence Hill), radio programs (e.g., on NPR Today's Takeaways: "Exploring The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." - The Takeaway and "John Lewis — The Art & Discipline of Nonviolence" | On Being ), and volunteer service activities, all strategically scheduled to air or occur on and around this day
- Tributes, protests mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Yahoo News
And then, of course, some people view MLK Day merely as a holiday from work or school, or as a shopping bonanza.