Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2010
A DAY OF SERVICEEvery year we make plans regarding our "day off" for Dr. Martin Luther King Day. We sleep-in, we go shopping, we do house work and other things we sometimes don't remember. Have you ever given thought as to what it took, to make this a Federal Holiday?
April 8, 1968 – Four days after Dr. King is assassinated, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduces first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal
June 26, 1968 – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center is founded in
January 15, 1969 – The
April, 1971 – Petitions gathered by SCLC bearing 3 million signatures in support of King Holiday are presented to Congress. But Congress takes no action to move holiday legislation forward.
1973 – First state King Holiday bill (sponsored by then Assemblyman Harold Washington) signed into law in
1975 – New Jersey State Supreme Court rules that state must provide a paid holiday in honor of Dr. King in accordance with the state government’s labor contract with the New Jersey State Employees Association.
November 4, 1978 – National Council of Churches calls on Congress to pass King Holiday.
February 19, 1979 – Coretta Scott King testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in behalf of the King Holiday. She urges Rep. Conyers to bring the holiday bill up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives.
March 27, 1979 – Mrs. King testifies before Joint Hearings of Congress in support of King Holiday bill.
1979 – Mrs. King directs
November, 1979 – The Conyers King Holiday bill is defeated in floor vote in U.S. House of Representatives by just 5 votes.
1980 –Stevie Wonder releases “Happy Birthday,” a song celebrating Dr. King and urging a holiday in his honor. It becomes a hit and a rallying cry for the holiday.
May 2, 1980 - Coretta Scott King testifies in U.S. House of Representative in support of establishing a National Historic Site in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
September 11, 1980 – Mrs. King testifies in U.S. Senate in support of establishing a National Historic Site in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
1981 – King Center President Coretta Scott King writes to governors, mayors, and chairpersons of city council across the
February 23, 1982 – Mrs. King testifies in support of the
1982 – The
1982 – Mrs. King and Stevie Wonder present
June, 1983 – Mrs. King testifies before Congress in behalf of The King Holiday bill again.
August, 1983 – The House of Representatives passes King Holiday Bill, providing for the King Holiday to be observed on the third Monday in January. The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), passes by a vote of 338 to 90.
August 27, 1983 –
October 19, 1983 - Holiday Bill sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) passes U.S. Senate by a vote of 78-22.
November 3, 1983 - President Reagan signs bill establishing the 3rd Monday of every January as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National
April-May, 1984 –
August 27, 1984 – President Reagan signs legislation providing for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission, to last for a term of five years, with an option to renew for another 5 years.
November, 1984 – First meeting of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal
January 20, 1986 - First national King Holiday Observed. By this time 17 states had official King holidays. The King Holiday Commissioners are sworn in by federal district Judge Horace Ward.
January 16, 1989 – As a result of leadership of the King Holiday Commission, the number of states which enacted a MLK holiday grows to 44.
1990 – The United Auto Workers negotiate contracts with the big three auto companies requiring a paid holiday for all their employees.
January 15, 1990 – The Wall St. Journal Reports that only 18 % of 317 corporate employers surveyed by the Bureau of National Affairs provide a paid King Holiday.
November 3, 1992 – After a coalition of citizens for an Arizona King Holiday launches successful protest and boycott campaigns, the people of
January, 1993 –
1994 – Citing Dr. King’s statement that “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” Coretta Scott King testifies before congress in support of making the King Holiday an official national day of humanitarian service.
August 23, 1994 – President Clinton signs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal
1996 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal
June 7, 1999 – Governor Jean Shaheen of
October 29, 1999 – U.S. Senate unanimously passes legislation requiring federal institutions to fly the
August 2000 – The
Today – The King Holiday is celebrated in
The King Holiday should highlight remembrance and celebration and should encourage people everywhere to reflect on the principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. It should be a day of community and humanitarian service, and interracial cooperation.
The King Holiday should be a day of which the majority of local and state governments close, and one on which private organizations and the majority of businesses honor Dr. King by encouraging their employees to undertake community service work to address social needs.
The King Holiday should officially and appropriately be observed by the United Nations and its members. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who severed as Chair, Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission and Founding President of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.Throughout Dr. King's years of public service he encouraged everyone to participate in community service. He was quoted as saying: