Observed the third Monday in January, celebrating the life and legacy of the Civil Rights leader, as well as a commitment to service
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership.
On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.
Dr. King wrote in a letter from a Birmingham, Alabama jail on April 16. 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
NPS – Engraved on the North Wall of the MLK Jr. Memorial
The eternal flame at the gravesite of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., at the King Center in Atlanta, the capital and largest city in the U.S. state of Georgia, Source: Library of Congress
On August 27, 1984, President Reagan established a commission (98 Stat. 1473 ) to assist in the first observance of the Federal legal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and on January 18, 1986, President Reagan signed Proclamation 5431 (100 Stat. 4396), marking the first observance of his birthday a national holiday.
On August 23, 1994, President Clinton signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act (108 Stat. 1565), expanding the mission of the holiday as a day of community service, interracial cooperation and youth anti-violence initiatives.
In 1999, Title 4, United States Code, (113 Stat. 1285), was amended to add the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to the list of days on which the flag should be displayed.
The following ia a Proclamation on Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 2022:
On a late summer day in 1963, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the National Mall before hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who had gathered to march for freedom, justice, and equality. On that day, Dr. King shared a dream that has continued to inspire a Nation: To bring justice where there is injustice, freedom where there is oppression, peace where there is violence, and opportunity where there is poverty. Today, people of all backgrounds continue that march — raising their voices to confront abuses of power, challenge hate and discrimination, protect the right to vote, and access quality jobs, health care, housing, and education. On this day, we reflect on the legacy of a man who issued a call to the conscience of our Nation and our world.
Dr. King pushed us to see ourselves in one another, recognizing that we are “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” He reminded us that we have a duty to uphold our founding ideals and work to perfect our Union. Through bus boycotts, restaurant sit-ins, freedom rides, and marches, the movement that Dr. King helped lead used non-violent protest and civil disobedience to advance the call for justice. He was jailed dozens of times for his efforts, but Dr. King’s commitment to justice never wavered. From a Birmingham jail, he reminded us that “human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability…injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action.”
Living up to his legacy, and what Dr. King believed our Nation could become requires more than just reflection — it requires action. We must protect the hard-fought gains he helped achieve and continue his unfinished struggle. That is why the Congress must pass Federal legislation to protect the right to vote — a right that is under attack by a sinister combination of voter suppression and election subversion.
We must confront the scourge of racism and white supremacy — a stain on our Nation — and give hate no safe harbor in America. We must strive to achieve not just political equality but also economic justice so that workers can earn a decent living, students can learn safely, the sick can access health care, the poor can climb out of poverty, the elderly can age with dignity, and everyone in America can live without discrimination or fear.
Just as in Dr. King’s time, there are those who now say that change would be too disruptive and that these urgent needs can wait. But we must resist complacency, summon new resolve to advance the cause of freedom and opportunity, and do our part to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. This is the cause of our time. We are at an inflection point in our history — in the midst of a battle for the very soul of our Nation. We all must find the courage to keep pushing forward in our struggle to realize Dr. King’s dream for a freer, fairer, and more just society. We must keep the faith in that righteous cause — and in each other.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Monday, January 17, 2022, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service projects in honor of Dr. King and to visit www.MLKDay.gov to find Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service projects across our country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.