After a racist man assassinated Dr King in 1968, there was an immediate push to designate a holiday for the civil rights leader.

It failed. Again and again.

This is a story some people don't want told. A story drenched in shame. But a story with a powerful lesson. (1/11)
The next year after Dr King was murdered, in 1969 Black activists began to call for a holiday on the anniversary of his death.

Every single year thereafter, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced a bill in congress to create a federal holiday. He couldn't even get a vote.
After Democrats passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they never again won a majority of white voters. A streak that continues until this day.

Meanwhile the Republican party went from the party of slavery abolition under Lincoln to a more racially conservative Southern strategy.
Many Republicans were deeply skeptical of designating a holiday after Dr King. As were the few remaining conservative Southern Democrats.

They argued that holidays shouldn't exist to honor people who never held elected office. (Guess they kind of forgot about Columbus Day huh?)
When Civil Rights movement vets rose to finally make MLK Day a holiday in 1983, Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) filibustered it.

Helms criticized Martin Luther King for his use of nonviolence (!) and said he did not deserve a holiday because he believed him to be "Marxist-Leninist."
President Reagan was against naming a holiday after Dr King, hinting that he believed Dr King was a communist.

In 1983, 283 Ds and 126 Rs in Congress passed a bill to finally make King Day a holiday.

With a veto-proof margin, Reagan complained that he no choice but to sign it.
Even after Dr King Day became federal, many states resisted adopting it.

In a deeply insulting maneuver, some Southern states combined Dr King day with a celebration of slaveholding Confederate traitors.

The first time all 50 states celebrated the public holiday was in... 2000.
Many young people today find it hard to believe that it was so difficult to simply name a holiday after Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Why was it hard? The truth is, many White Americans just didn't like Dr King or the movement. Look at this shocking polling from the 1960s:
When MLK Day finally became a holiday, it was an emotional moment for many. It was the final honor we could give to a man who gave his entire life for the cause of equality.

Who voted against the holiday? John McCain.

He lived long enough to later become ashamed of his vote.
Many white people today oppose the current civil rights movement. Like Mike Pence, they refuse to say the words "Black Lives Matter."

If they live to be old enough they will one day claim that they were on the right side of history. But we have receipts.
Free advice: Some day, someone younger than you is going to ask what it was like to live through 2020.

Think about what kind of person you want to be able to tell them you were.

And then become that kind of person. Every day. (end)
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