Johnson County offices closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Statue of Martin Luther King in profile against blue sky

Johnson County Government offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 17, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 18, for normal business hours.

MLK Day is a  relatively new federal holiday and was first observed by all 50 states in 2000. It is traditionally celebrated annually on the third Monday of January.

President Ronald Reagan signed the federal law in 1983 to have a day honoring Martin Luther King Jr. It was first observed three years later as a federal holiday, but not by all states. Kansas had its first MLK observance in 1985. The Board of County Commissioners added Martin Luther King Jr. Day to the list of county observed holidays effective Jan. 1, 2002.

Born in 1929, Dr. King’s actual birthday is Jan. 15. His birth name was Michael, not Martin. His father, Michael King Sr., a pastor, was inspired by the Protestant Reform leader Martin Luther and changed his own name and his 5-year-old son’s name to Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr.

MLK Jr. dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for equal justice. He was imprisoned or jailed 29 times in the 1950s and 1960s.

His iconic “I have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963 helped to inspire President John F. Kennedy to promote a civil rights bill after nearly 100 years of segregation, leading to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. MLK Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize that year. The Voting Rights Act became law the following year.

Dr. King was assassinated three years later. He was 39.

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