ARIZONA NEWS

The rocky history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Arizona

Jan 20, 2020, 8:00 AM | Updated: 1:08 pm

(AP Photo)...

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

LISTEN: A LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF MLK DAY IN ARIZONA

PHOENIX — Some of us will not be working on Monday as it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the holiday was not always recognized in Arizona.

In fact, Arizona was one of the last states to recognize it.

Arizona began working to create a holiday in King’s honor in the early 1970s, just a few years after he was assassinated, but every measure failed.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill that created a national holiday to honor King, arguably one of the most famous civil rights leaders of all time.

The holiday was observed for the first time in the United States on Jan. 20, 1986.

Then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt signed an executive order in May 1986, declaring the third Monday in January of every year should honor King.

However, just before the holiday in 1987, then-Gov. Evan Mecham made it his first act to rescind the proclamation that he argued was created illegally by Babbitt. The state’s attorney general agreed.

Mecham instead issued a proclamation of his own that said King — along with the entire Civil Rights Movement — would be honored on the third Sunday of every January, meaning workers would not get a paid day off.

That move spurned boycotts of Arizona by major artists and wound up costing the state millions in possible investments.

Despite the negative reaction, Arizona voted against the creation of the holiday in 1990.

But two years later — amid the decision by the National Football League to pull the upcoming Super Bowl because it did not want to deal with potential fallout — Arizona voters went back to the polls and approved a measure to create the holiday.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day as we know it today was first marked in Arizona in 1993.

The NFL said it would return with a Super Bowl after voters passed the law. True to its word, the league brought the big game to the Valley in 1996.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

An image from Google Street View shows the third-party post office between a Jimmy John's and a Dun...

KTAR.com

Southeast Valley shopping center temporarily evacuated after bomb threat

Multiple businesses at a southeast Valley shopping center were temporarily evacuated Monday because of a bomb threat, authorities said.

35 minutes ago

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Cottonwood before a second DUI suspect was arrest...

KTAR.com

Arizona DUI suspect’s car careens down 200-foot embankment before 2nd DUI suspect arrested

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Arizona on Saturday morning before another DUI suspect attempted to evade police at the crash area, authorities said.

1 hour ago

Split panel image of the front of an Albertsons grocery store on the left and a Kroger plastic bag ...

Kevin Stone

Arizona joins federal lawsuit to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons

Arizona is part of a federal lawsuit filed Monday to block the controversial merger of Kroger and Albertsons, two of the nation’s largest grocers.

2 hours ago

The eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain freeway was closed in Phoenix on Feb. 26, 2024, for a fatal c...

KTAR.com

Eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway closed in Phoenix for fatal wrong-way crash

The eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain freeway was closed in Phoenix on Monday for a fatal wrong-way crash, authorities said.

3 hours ago

...

KTAR Video

Video: Congress says border issue is a crisis, but what took so long for both sides of the aisle to agree?

Biden’s border bill has yet to pass through the Senate to even reach the House of Representatives, yet both sides of the aisle agree that the immigration issue at the U.S.-Mexico border is now a crisis. Arizona Rep. Debbie Lasko joined The Mike Broomhead show to weigh in. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

3 hours ago

Mugshot of Jill Houchens, who was arrested Feb. 19, 2024, on 146 counts of animal abuse and neglect...

KTAR.com

Arizona woman arrested on nearly 150 animal abuse and neglect charges

An Arizona woman faces nearly 150 charges after more than 20 animals, including five that were dead, were removed from her property earlier this month, authorities said.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

The rocky history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Arizona