George Bush photo

Proclamation 6524—Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 1993

January 11, 1993

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

By setting aside a day in honor of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., our Nation reaffirms its commitment to the noble goals for which he labored and eventually gave his life: equal opportunity and justice for all.

Throughout his quest to end racial segregation in the United States and to promote understanding and respect among all people, Martin Luther King urged America to fulfill its promise--and its potential--as a Nation dedicated to the belief "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Always mindful of those words from our Declaration of Independence, Dr. King viewed his work as a must-win struggle for the soul and future of the Nation. He knew that efforts to promote far-reaching social change, in a peaceful, nonviolent manner, would require patience, determination, and sacrifice. Yet, despite experiencing stubborn opposition, imprisonment, and even threats to his life, he also believed that the civil rights movement would prevail. "We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the Nation," he wrote to his followers from jail, "because the goal of America is freedom. . . . our destiny is tied up with America's destiny."

With his inspired leadership and eloquent appeals to all who would listen, Martin Luther King set in motion a ground swell of change in the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were critical milestones in the fight for equality under the law. Although Dr. King's assassination in 1968 at the age of 39 prevented his living to see the fulfillment of his dreams for America, his legacy has continued to challenge and inspire us. Over the years the United States has continued to eliminate legal and attitudinal barriers that have, in the past, limited opportunities on the basis of race. We must go on striving to realize Dr. King's vision of an America where individuals are "not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

While government plays a critical role in the fight against discrimination through the enforcement of civil rights laws and its own hiring practices, our efforts to promote racial harmony and justice in the United States must begin at home. Martin Luther King described the family as the "main educational agency of mankind," and it is within the family that we must first teach lessons about love and fairness, decency and kindness, and the difference between right and wrong. We honor the legacy of Martin Luther King when we show our children, by word and example, what it means to lead "a committed life"--a life dedicated to excellence and to the service of one's fellowman. We equip our children for such a life when we encourage them to recognize their own self-worth, as well as the inherent rights and worth of others. "Every man is somebody," declared Dr. King, "because he is a child of God."

A minister by vocation, Martin Luther King sought righteous hearts as well as just laws. He warned that humankind suffered from "a poverty of the spirit which stands in stark contrast to our scientific and technological abundance." In this last decade of the 20th century, as we marvel at the historic achievements of the past 100 years and anticipate the many to come, let us enrich our children with a wealth of encouragement, hope, and moral guidance--and with living examples of racial comity and friendship.

By Public Law 98-144, the third Monday in January of each year has been designated as a legal public holiday.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Monday, January 18, 1993, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.

Signature of George Bush


Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on January 13.

George Bush, Proclamation 6524—Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 1993 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives