Huffpost Homepage

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2011 (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:

Martin Luther King Day is just around the corner.

Celebrated this year on January 17, 2011, the holiday falls on the third Monday of January every year, right around King's birthday, which is January 15. King would have been 82 this year.

While President Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, it wasn't until 1986 that it was first observed.

In years past, some states refused to acknowledge the holiday in reverence to King, often combining it with other holidays or giving it different names. It wasn't until 2000 that all 50 states officially recognized the holiday.

The bill to designate a holiday to MLK Jr. was met with opposition from its creation, despite the veto-proof vote that sent it to President Ronald Reagan (he had initially opposed to holiday citing costs). Arizona Senator John McCain strongly opposed the bill and was a member of the minority that voted against it in 1983, according to ABC News.

King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. A little over two months later, James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was arrested for King's murder at London's Heathrow Airport.

King's wife, Coretta Scott King, took up much of his leadership role in the fight for equality following her husband's death. She passed away in January 2006.

Watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream Speech" below.

WATCH: