Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Martin Luther King Day
The holiday was the result of a large-scale campaign headed by a number of activists. One of the most notable of these was musician Stevie Wonder, who released the single "Happy Birthday" to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983, US President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.
On January 18, 1993, for the first time, Martin Luther King Day was officially observed in all 50 U.S. states. The day is marked by demonstrations for peace, social justice and racial and class equality , as well as a national day of volunteer community service .
Although the day is a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is usually not observed by small private companies. Many large corporations are closed, but most small shops, restaurants, and grocery stores remain open. Additionally some schools and places of higher education are closed for classes; others remain open but may hold seminars or celebrations of Dr. King's message.
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