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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2025 and 2026

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed every third Monday of January to honor the memory of what may be America’s most well-known and loved Civil Rights activist. King is remembered for his courage, non-violent approach to fighting for equality, and many stirring speeches and sermons.

In 2025, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will fall on Monday 20 January. In 2026 the holiday will be observed on 19 January.

202520 JanMonMartin Luther King Jr. Birthday Federal workers; All states
202619 JanMonMartin Luther King Jr. Birthday Federal workers; All states
Please scroll down to end of page for previous years' dates.

Almost immediately after King’s assassination in 1968, a movement sprang up to make his birthday a national holiday. In 1979, a bill was introduced in Congress to establish MLK Day, but it failed to pass. Finally, after it did pass, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law. Nonetheless, there were some US states, especially in the South, that resisted this holiday for many years. Today, however, MLK Day is widely celebrated across the whole nation.

Only about a third of US employers give their employees MLK Day off. So it’s not a non-working day for most people. Most schools and colleges, however, do give students the day out of classes. For those who do get the day off, the fact it is strategically placed on a Monday ensures they get a full three-day weekend.

Some people take part in the “Martin Luther King Day of Service” movement, which strives to make MLK Day a day for community action and service. Most at least take some time to remember the importance of Martin Luther King and how far the nation has progressed since his days. MLK Day is also a time when many focus on advances that may yet need to be made in the fight for justice in society.

Visiting museums and monuments that recall the fight against slavery and segregation, standing on the plaque that marks the spot where King gave his “I have a dream” speech in Washington, DC, or listening to King’s speeches on the TV or radio are things to do on MLK Day.

There are a few states that still don’t give Martin Luther King Day a separate place on the holiday calendar. For example, Arizona combines it with Civil Rights Day, while Idaho pairs it up with Human Rights Day. In certain Southern states, it is put on the same day as Robert E. Lee’s Birthday. Note that MLK Day is also called Martin Luther King Junior’s Birthday despite it being on a preset Monday instead of his actual birthday.

Previous Years

202415 JanMonMartin Luther King Jr. Birthday Federal workers; All states
202316 JanMonMartin Luther King Jr. Birthday Federal workers; All states