According to AmeriCorps, Martin Luther King Day is the only federal holiday in the United States that is designated as a national day of service. Martin Luther King Day takes place each year on the third Monday in January. In 2021, Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated on January 18. The day honors Martin Luther King, Jr., an influential leader in the civil rights movement who embraced nonviolent activism.
Despite his status as an advocate for nonviolence, Martin Luther King, Jr. was violently gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. A campaign to declare his birthday a national holiday was started shortly after King’s assassination.
However, the holiday was not officially observed until 1986, and that observation was not nationwide. It was not until 2000 that all 50 states observed Martin Luther King Day.