Senate Report: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday

The campaign to a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s was a struggle of unending obstacles.
Congressman John Conyers (D–MI) initially introduced a bill calling for a national holiday just four days after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Although King dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for civil rights in the United States, there was little to no support for a national holiday in Congress. Undeterred, Conyers filed the same bill year after year as it slowly gained support.
The bill for the King National Holiday sat stalled for fifteen years despite efforts by the Congressional Black Caucus, the King Center and petitions signed by millions of supporters to move it along. When the bill advanced out of committee with support from the Carter administration in November 1979, it was defeated by five votes in the House of Representatives. This obstacle rejuvenated the campaign! Stevie Wonder composed a song to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. The 20th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom garnered support for the holiday!
President Reagan signed the bill on November 3, 1983 marking the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day beginning in 1986. By the time, King was honored with a national holiday seventeen states had enacted a state holiday honoring him.
On Monday, January 17, 2022, will be celebrating the 27th Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The King Holiday is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. The holiday is “A day on, not a day off!” The slogan reminds us of the day’s purpose. Americans are urged to participate in the country’s recovery through service. Now more than ever service to our community is still needed. King, in a 1968 sermon entitled the “Drum Major Instinct,” reminded us that “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” This King Day of Service make time to volunteer, mentor a young person or donate to your local food bank/pantry. We can strive to be great every day by placing the needs of others ahead of ourselves.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Do not hesitate to get in touch with me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach a member of my staff or me in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011. My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571; the phone number is (843) 423-8237, and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or email me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.

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