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17 January 2012

MLK Day


Excerpts from Wikipedia article appear in this color
Commentary by me appears in my favorite color.

I decided I'd do some reading about the holiday, and thought I'd share some interesting things with you.
The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations. After King's death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office).  Only two other persons have national holidays in the United States honoring them: George Washington, the first President of the United States, and Christopher Columbus, whose voyages led to general European awareness of the American continents.   Because Christopher Columbus definitely held a public office... 
Soon after, the King Center turned to support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single "Happy Birthday" to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. So, pop-culture contributed to the creation of the holiday. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as "the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history."
At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, creating a federal holiday to honor King.  It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.The bill established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission to oversee observance of the holiday, and Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, was made a member of this commission for life by President George H. W. Bush in May 1989.



While all states now observe the holiday, some did not name the day after King. In Utah, the holiday was known as "Human Rights Day" until the year 2000, when the Utah State Legislature voted to change the name of the holiday from Human Rights Day to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In that same year Governor Michael O. Leavitt signed the bill officially naming the holiday "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day".
In Virginia, it was known as Lee-Jackson-King Day, combining King's birthday with the established Lee-Jackson Day. The incongruous nature of the holiday, which simultaneously celebrated the lives of Confederate Army generals and a civil rights icon, did not escape the notice of Virginia lawmakers. In 2000, Lee-Jackson Day was moved to the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, establishing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday in its own right. However,Mississippi still shares this co-celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and Robert E. Lee's birthday on the third Monday of January.  This isn't the first time Virginia has doubled up on a holiday.  From wikipedia article: "Virginia also celebrates two legal holidays on the day, Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, which honors the final victory at the Siege of Yorktown in theRevolutionary War. "
In Arizona, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is known as "Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day"; while in New Hampshire, its official name is "Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Day".

Premisses:
Paid federal holidays contribute to wasting government funds.
If there was no such thing as racism, I wouldn't have had a day off of school today.
Virginia is cheap when it comes to holidays.

Conclusion:
No matter what you call it, Happy MLK Day. :D




Also, I ate sushi today.  It was good.

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