Adoption of the day as a federal holiday met resistance early from Senate Republicans and some states, U.S. News and World Report reported Monday.
Because Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday, not a national one, only federal employees get the paid day off. Most countries allow national holidays in which the country's entire economy comes to a virtual halt and all citizens have a paid day off, patch.com reported.
Opponents of the holiday's legitimacy said they felt Martin Luther King Jr. was too subversive to dedicate a holiday in his memory. Others thought it wrong to name a day honoring the civil rights movement after just one man.
Arizona originally rescinded Martin Luther King Day, setting off a massive boycott in the state in 1987 and only voting to return the holiday in 1992 because the future of holding the Super Bowl in Phoenix was at stake, patch.com reported.
By 1989, Martin Luther King Day was observed as a federal holiday in only 44 states, though the remaining six would eventually follow suit.
New Hampshire was the last state to make it a paid state holiday in 1999, and in 2000 Utah changed its Human Rights Day to Martin Luther King Day.
South Carolina made the day a paid holiday for its state employees in 2000.