Martin Luther King’s life, legacy, and teachings will again be celebrated at First Baptist Church in Sevierville this year on January 21 with a program featuring choirs, speakers, and much more. The day of remembrance is one of Sevierville’s annual featured events marking Dr. King’s birthday.
It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King’s actual birthday is January 15. The floating holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, though the act predated the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by 15 years.
King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed on January 20, 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
A Baptist minister, King led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. He led the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. and beyond have been renamed in his honor in the years following his death.