|Related to||Lee–Jackson Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day|
Robert E. Lee's birthday (January 19, 1807) has been celebrated as a Virginia holiday since 1889. In 1904, the legislature added the birthday of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824) to the holiday, and Lee–Jackson Day was born.
In 1983, the United States Congress declared January 15 to be a national holiday in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Since 1978, Virginia had celebrated King's birthday in conjunction with New Year's Day. To align with the federal holiday, the Virginia legislature combined King's celebration with the existing Lee–Jackson holiday.
In 2000, Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore proposed splitting Lee–Jackson–King Day into two separate holidays after debate arose over whether the nature of the holiday which simultaneously celebrated the lives of two Confederate generals who fought to maintain slavery and a civil rights icon was incongruous. The measure was approved and the two holidays are now celebrated separately as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January and Lee–Jackson Day three days earlier on the preceding Friday.