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MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY

THE READING / TAPESCRIPT

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a U.S. holiday that celebrates the birth date of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders. Dr. King’s date of birth is January 15th, but the actual holiday is on the third Monday in January. The holiday recognizes the great achievements Martin Luther King made to American society. His leadership in the campaign to achieve equal rights for black Americans changed America forever. His focus on non-violent protests led to new laws that ended racial discrimination in America. The USA became a more equal society. The holiday is only one of four national holidays in America to commemorate a person. This shows just how important Martin Luther King was – one of the greatest Americans ever.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Just 25 years later, in 1983, then President Ronald Reagan signed this holiday into U.S. law. People first observed the holiday three years later, in 1986. At first, the holiday was not popular with all American states. Some didn’t like the name and so they called it “Civil Rights Day”. However, in the year 2000, all 50 states observed the holiday using its correct name. The musician Stevie Wonder helped the campaign for the holiday. He released a hit single called “Happy Birthday” in 1980. The song made millions of Americans aware of the campaign. Six million people signed a petition for the American Congress to create the holiday. It is still the largest petition in U.S. history in favour of an issue.

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