Why is Martin Luther King Jr Day not on his birthday?

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MARTIN Luther King Jr.’s legacy is celebrated annually on the third Monday of January.

This year, the holiday will be celebrated on January 18, a few days after what would have been Dr. King's 53rd birthday.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1968

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Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1968Credit: Getty Images - Getty

Dr. King was a pioneer for civil rights all across America

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Dr. King was a pioneer for civil rights all across AmericaCredit: Getty Images - Getty

Why is Martin Luther King Jr Day not on his birthday?

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1963 but his birthday is not the only reason why the holiday became a nationwide celebration.

When Representative John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced legislation for a federal holiday four days after his assasination in 1968, it marked the start of an informal commemoration to honor Dr. King’s life.

The following year on Dr. King’s birthday, annual ceremonies were launched by The King Center in Atlanta. 

Dr. King's holiday was first formally celebrated in 1986

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Dr. King's holiday was first formally celebrated in 1986Credit: Getty Images - Getty

The center called for nationwide ceremonies and began working to gain support for the holiday.

The day became a federal holiday in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law.

Yet, the holiday was first formally celebrated in 1986.

At first, some states resisted observing the holiday, but in the year 2000 all 50 states decided to honor it.

Dr. King led civil rights marches across the US in an effort to gain government attention to change laws

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Dr. King led civil rights marches across the US in an effort to gain government attention to change lawsCredit: Getty - Contributor

The celebration does not only aim to honor Dr. King’s birthday but all the civil rights advances he chartered while being alive.

Although, the holiday sometimes lands on Dr. King’s birthday depending on the calendar. 

The latest date the holiday can be celebrated is January 21.

What do people do on the holiday?

The commemoration is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of racial, gender, ethnic, religious, or other backgrounds.

In recent years, private organizations and federal legislation have encouraged Americans to volunteer their time on the day.

The day has become the most recognized day on the calendar for community service.

Dr. King's day has become the most recognized day on the calendar for community service

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Dr. King's day has become the most recognized day on the calendar for community serviceCredit: Getty - Contributor

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Is Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday?

Since it is a federal holiday, all federal employees are paid for working even if they receive the day off.

Many private employees will also receive paid time off or special holiday pay on the holiday.

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