When is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday and Holiday

Martin Luther King Jr.

When is Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019? Here is the MLK Day date for the year—plus, more about this influential American civil rights leader.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist minister, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and civil rights leader who championed justice and equality. As he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. King was also a great advocate of change through nonviolent civil actions based on his Christian values. He was a great speaker, and his powerful words resonate with us today.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
–Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The third Monday in January is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  It has been a federal holiday since 1986. This means that it is a day off for federal employees, as well as for many schools and businesses. This also means that the holiday does not always fall on Martin Luther King Jr.’s true birth date, January 15.

Year Martin Luther King Jr. Day
2018 Monday, January 15
2019 Monday, January 21
2020 Monday, January 20


Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.?

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 in Georgia into a Christian family. His grandfather was a church pastor, his father became a pastor, and then he became a pastor.

Graduating from high school at the age of 15, Martin Luther King went on to receive his B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College. After 3 years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class and awarded the B.D. in 1951. After winning a fellowship at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, and they started a family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King Jr. had become pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights, King believed in nonviolence, following Gandhi’s philosophy. In 1955, he began his struggle to persuade the U.S. government to declare the policy of racial discrimination unlawful. He led the first large nonviolent demonstration against segregated buses. However, racists responded with violence to his nonviolent initiative. In December 1956, the Supreme Court declared bus segregation unconstitutional.

In 1957, King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He led according to his beliefs from Christianity, with nonviolent influences from Gandhi. He traveled greatly, wrote five books and numerous articles, and led many initiatives to campaign for the proper voter registration of blacks.

On August 28, 1963, King directed a march of 250,000 demonstrators to Washington, D.C., where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The following year, President Johnson signed a law prohibiting all racial discrimination. 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was that the inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A statue of Dr. King stands at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 35 for his peaceful campaign against racism. He turned over the prize money of $54,123 to support the civil rights movement. 

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by a racist while speaking in Tennessee in support of the struggling garbage workers of that city. It had been only 4 years earlier that he had received the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against racism.

How to Observe MLK Day

Americans are often encouraged to observe this day not just as a day off from work, but also as a “Day of Service” to others through appropriate civic, community, and service projects.

Visit www.MLKDay.gov to find Day of Service projects across the country.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
–Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68)

To learn more about this leader, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, created by the National Parks Service.

Reader Comments

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Martin Luther King

Happy birthday to u! Thank u for teaching us all people are relevant n worthy.

One UP

MLK fought for and stood for what he believed in, and didn't let people like Alex below to subjugate him and his belief for equal rights for all Americans, asians black white hispanic, natives, etc. OOH RAH!

-Camp Pendleton CA


WHY IS MLK birthday not observed on his actually birthday?

MLK day.

MLK day is a federal holiday. The day is set on the third Monday of January so it can be observed by federal employees, schools, banks and such, and businesses who choose. This way the day each year does not change, even though the date does, like many other holidays.

MLK day 2017

I have always loved history. Those who lived in such a way as to inspire future generations did not live in vain. Dr. King surely was such a man. I believe, as he, that the real issue with many folks is not that of race, but of character. A lack of solid moral character allows one to follows their own senseless, hateful mind, for no other reason than that they are compelled to do so. Unkindness and cruelty grow from a root of hate.
I am a white woman who grew up poor and unpopular in the South. I was not judged for the color of my skin but for being a little girl, then a teen, who did not have possessions and popularity. My mother taught me by word and example to be a kind person and help those in need. Maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the way we--all races-- have stopped teaching our children and teens these simple truths. Maybe we have not been practicing them ourselves.
Surely the wrongdoers of any race need to be accountable, but we need to learn to believe, as this gentle man we remember, love and peaceful protest, while declaring truth, speaks much louder than anger.


I know when MLK day is observed, but what I really want to know is when is his birthdate?

Martin Luther King

Good question. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929.



happy birthday to the one man

Happy birthday to the one man who could stand up for his people and not be afraid of what was coming your and I am sure we all wish you were still here with us today!!!

amen on that. he was a good

amen on that. he was a good man.


I agree. Such an inspiration.

happy birthday martin luther king

Happy Birthday. He inspired me so much.

As a 71-year-old white man, I

As a 71-year-old white man, I must add my gratitude to MLK and everyone who battled with him for improving MY world.

Happy Birthday...We the

Happy Birthday...We, the people, are still having the fight of race. We, as minorities, still have to protect ourselves.
Jeff H- St.Louis,Mo

RIP MLK we still fighting the

RIP MLK we still fighting the fight


I just want to say that he and his family made a really big impact on the rights and the way we live today and I wish I could say to him and his family...THANK YOU!
I will always remember him and the others who fought for me and black children to have the rights that we have today!

Rest In Peace Thank You

Rest In Peace. Thank You for Standing up For Us. Some People Still Hate Us! If ONLY YOU WERE HERE. AWWE MAN!

Happy birthday Mr. King

Happy birthday, Mr. King, Sir.

Happy bday

Happy bday

Thank you, and Mrs Coretta

Thank you, and Mrs Coretta Scott King far being a Leader too us all lol.

Dr. Martin Luther King!

He is and will always be a great and missed man. Dr. Martin Luther King!!! :-)

Happy Birthday Sir! You are

Happy Birthday Sir! You are truly missed.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Excellent Baptist Minister. I am so upset that he passed away at the young adult age of 39. I will say prayers for him and his family on Sunday and Monday this week and for every day of my Life.

Happy Birthday Dr. King

Happy Birthday Dr. King

happy birthday Martin Luther

happy birthday Martin Luther King Jr.

i have the same birthday as

i have the same birthday as Martin Luther King Jr and rip

rest in peace

rest in peace

Where are the great moral

Where are the great moral values? King used to challenge segregation and racism. In only forty-three years we've forgotten them.

Happy birthday

Happy birthday, Martin Luther King.