Hollywood stars Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

‘I have a dream’

Today is Martin Luther King’s Birthday, the federal holiday that honors the assassinated civil rights leader.

Well, not everywhere.

All 50 states celebrate the public holiday on the third Monday in January, but not all states, cities and towns dedicate it solely to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some package it as a broader celebration of both Dr. King and Confederate leaders.

State-by-state naming differences are remnants of fierce opposition to a holiday that was not officially recognized by all states until 1999. Here is a brief history of how Martin Luther King Jr. Day came to be.

How Did Martin Luther King Jr. Day Become a Holiday?

A federal holiday honoring Dr. King was first proposed four days after he was assassinated, in 1968, but it took almost two decades of campaigning for it to be approved and designated at the national level.

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