Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Decoded

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Honoring of King’s Birthday

It took an arduous 15-year campaign following Dr. King’s death in 1968 before legislation was passed declaring his birthday a federal holiday in 1983. It would be another three years before his birthday received its first celebration in 1986. Eight years after the inaugural celebration, Congress declared Dr. King’s holiday as a national day of service, which continues to inspire an immense amount of individuals throughout the United States to give back to the community. While most holidays are commercialized and viewed as leisure opportunities, Peterson notes that Dr. King’s birthday stands in stark contrast to those concepts. “We don’t think about presidential politics on President’s Day or navigation on Columbus Day, we think about going to buy stuff,” he says. “Dr. King’s holiday has created a discourse around social service to pay homage to his legacy.”

Honoring of King’s Birthday

It took an arduous 15-year campaign following Dr. King’s death in 1968…

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