April 4, 1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, TN.
April 8, 1968 – Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) introduces legislation on the House floor to establish a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
1971 – Congress receives more than six million signatures in support of the federal holiday, but no legislative action is taken.
1973-1979 – Several states enact statewide King holidays including Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.
1979 – CBC denounces amendment to commemorate the King Holiday on a Sunday. Anything less than a full legal holiday is unacceptable.
November 1979 – Congressman Conyers’ bill for a King Holiday is defeated on the House floor by five votes.
January 15, 1981 – CBC supports a benefit concert, rally and march in Washington, D.C. to gain attention for the Holiday Bill. Stevie Wonder is the event sponsor, and his song “Happy Birthday” becomes an anthem for the movement.
August 1983 – Congresswoman Katie B. Hall (D-IN), CBC member and member of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee, re-introduces the King Holiday legislation. It passes the House, 338-90.
October 1983 – The King Holiday Bill passes the Senate, 78-22.
November 1983 – President Ronald Reagan signs the bill into law (Public Law 98-399), declaring the third Monday in January as a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. and his service to this country.
January 20, 1986 – The first national celebration of the King Holiday takes place.