IU Bloomington first celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1995, but efforts driven by students greatly expanded the celebration. On January 24, 1997, the IU Board of Trustees declared that classes would be cancelled on the third Monday in January to celebrate the holiday.
January 20, 2020, will mark the 34rd anniversary of the first observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a U.S. federal holiday.
A national holiday that has been observed since 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day at IU Bloomington has been utilized as a day of service. Students, faculty, and staff join members of the community for service-oriented projects, facilitated by a partnership between IU and the City of Bloomington.