The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga., where he was raised. (I was surprised to discover that King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.)
King is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using the nonviolent methods of Mahatma Gandhi. King has become a national icon in the history of modern American liberalism.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986 which is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, Jan. 15.
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 Jan. 20, 1986. At first, some states (including Arizona) 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.
Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.