GARY, Ind. — Martin Luther King Jr. Day was one of the last federal holidays added to the calendar. After it was signed by then President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983, it wasn’t celebrated until three years later on January 20, 1986.
What many Americans may not know, the holiday happened thanks to the efforts of an Indiana lawmaker, according to the Indiana Historical Bureau’s Facebook page. The post states that after a previous attempt to recognize King with a national holiday failed, first year Congresswoman Katie Hall from Gary introduced a bill in July 1983.
It was no walk in the park to get the legislation moving. Being a Democrat, Hall had to overcome conservatives’ concerns about the cost of the holiday. She had an answer for that. Hall proposed putting the holiday on a fixed Monday rather than King’s birthday. This offset state, federal offices having to open twice in one week.
The post says Hall reminded colleagues, “The legislation before us will act as a national commitment to Dr. King’s vision and determination for an ideal America, which he spoke of the night before his death, where equality will always prevail.”
Hall died in 2012 at the age of 73, according to her online Bio.
Learn more about Representative Katie Beatrice Hall.
The photo: November 1983, President Ronald Reagan signing the bill commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Representative Hall appears over right shoulder in a white polka-dot shirt.