mlkMartin Luther King, Jr. Day, a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is observed on the third Monday of January each year around the time of King's birthday, January 15. Officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000, many people around the world have also begun to recognize the holiday.

Virtually every major city in the US has planned some type of observance ceremony. Many communities dedicate more than one day to the legacy of Dr. King. Celebrations everywhere include church services, school assemblies and volunteer projects. Various organizations like the NAACP will be honoring people who have best exemplified the dream of Dr. King. Many programs will include people reciting the civil rights leader famous “I Have a Dream" Speech.

Dr. King, the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism, led the Civil Rights Movement that successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The push for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. The holiday was signed into law in 1983, and was first observed in 1986. Some states resisted observing the holiday at first electing to give it alternative names or to combine it with other holidays.

Dr. King’s home city of Atlanta has been celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and his legacy for years. People from all over the world come to the city during its week-long celebration honoring this fallen Nobel Laureate hero.  Sponsored by Atlanta’s Center for Nonviolent Social Change, events include various live performances, religious services, inspirational concerts and educational seminars.  A rally will be held on January 18th from 1 pm - 4 pm at the King National Park area on Auburn Ave, and a march will proceed from Auburn Avenue to Peachtree Street and Jackson Street.

MLK, Jr. Day project ideas, tips on how to plan and run a successful project, and a state-by-state listing of events happening on Martin Luther King Jr. Day are available at: www.mlkday.org and www.bostonteachnet.org/mlk/mlk.htm. To learn about an MLK, Jr. Day event in your state, you may also visit www.king-raleigh.org/natlevent/body.cfm.