There was a time not long ago when Martin Luther King Jr. was not celebrated in the United States. Don't get me wrong, African Americans celebrated him, but he had done so much for the country, for the races, and for the social climate that blacks felt he should have his own Federal holiday just like other men and women from history.

Singer, songwriter and activist Stevie Wonder helped to change all that. We won't go into the full story here. You can read The story of Stevie Wonder's 'Happy Birthday' MLK tribute for the full story.

What we will tell you is that young Stevie got to shake Dr. King's hand at the age of 15. After Dr. King's tragic death, Stevie attended the funeral and then worked with Rep. John Conyers to back a bill declaring Dr. King's birthday a national holiday. Stevie penned his own version of the "Happy Birthday" song for Dr. King, and included it on his 1981 album, Hotter Than July. Then he went on a four-month tour with poet and songwriter Gil Scott-Heron to publicize the drive to declare a day for Dr. King. MLK Day was finally born in 1983, but not everyone was happy about it.

Again, we urge you to read The story of Stevie Wonder's 'Happy Birthday' MLK tribute for all the details.

Today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has the honor and distinction of having a national holiday named for him. Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929. Each year, Americans celebrate his birthday on the third Monday in January. This date was designated by Congress in 1994.

SONG: Happy Birthday
ARTIST: Stevie Wonder
ALBUM: Happy Birthday
WRITER: Stevie Wonder
RELEASED: 1981 ┬ęBlack Bull Music, Jobete Music Co Inc, Jobete Music Co., Inc.

You know it doesn't make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I'm sure you would agree
It couldn't fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
that they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
all throughout the world

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God's children
It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don't hold it in
Sing it loud as you can
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Ooh yeah
Happy birthday...

We know the key to unify all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago
That lives in all of the hearts of people
That believe in unity
We'll make the dream become a reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

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