What year was Martin Luther King Day first observed as a federal holiday? July 30, 2020 by Pamela Landy Martin Luther King Day was first observed as a federal legal public holiday on January 20, 1986. Related Answers What was James Earl Ray’s sentence for killing Martin Luther King, Jr.? Where did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., get his doctorate? When and where did Martin Luther King, Jr., make his “I Have a Dream” speech? Where was the assassin of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, James Earl Ray arrested? How many people serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System? Who played Anna in Anna and the King of Siam (1946) and who played the king?