1. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr., March 26, 1964. Photograph by Marion S. Trikosko. (Library of Congress)On the third Monday of every January, the United States celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the iconic Baptist minister and activist who became one of the most well-known leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. The first federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was celebrated in 1986, though President Ronald Reagan signed the law in November 1983. It took more than a decade for all fifty states to recognize it, in 2000.

Primary Source Documents

Gilder Lehrman curators explain and explore documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

Lesson Plans


Allied Printing (fl. 1968) Honor King, End Racism (Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC06125)Many essays pertaining to Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement have been published on the Gilder Lehrman Institute website and in History Now, the online journal of the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

To read the following essays, subscribe to History Now (free for teachers and students in our free Affiliate School Program and a $25/year subscription for general readers)