King was a key figure in the civil rights’ movement and was an advocate of using nonviolent means to protest discrimination. Martin Luther King, Jr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 as a result of his dedication to fighting for civil rights without resorting to violence. King was assassinated in 1968 and many civil rights’ activists petitioned for a holiday to be declared in honor of the civil rights’ leader. President Ronald Reagan declared a holiday in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr and the first Martin Luther King, Jr holiday was observed on 20 January 1986.

Because Martin Luther King, Jr Day is a federal holiday, all non-essential federal employees are given the day off. Most schools are not in session and there is no mail service on the holiday.

The purpose of the public holiday is to remember the struggles that people have had to overcome to obtain civil rights. As the holiday approaches, many schools dedicate class sessions to teaching students about the importance of preventing racism and other forms of prejudice.

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