Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929. However, the national holiday commemorating his birth rarely falls on his actual birthday. Four days after King’s assassination, U.S. Rep. John Conyers introduced legislation to commemorate a holiday in King’s honor.
The legislation stalled, but after a petition with 6-million signatures and civil rights marches in Washington, Congress passed the bill in 1983.
A compromise was reached that moved the holiday to the third Monday in January. Some people argued that King’s birthday was too close to Christmas and the New Year. Illinois was the first state to adopt MLK Day as a state holiday in 1973.