Pathway to A National Holiday

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 a vote of 33 to 90.

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 Holiday, beginning in 1986.

April-May, 1984
King Center develops legislative proposal to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. Mrs. King meets with leadership of the House and Senate and appears to Congress to legislate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. The legislation passes Congress by a voice vote.

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 Holiday Commission. Coretta Scott King is unanimously elected Chairperson.

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.

Past Keynote Speakers
- Diane Nash
- Morris Dees
- Rev. Billy Kyles
- Cynthia Fleming
- Rev. C. T. Vivian
- Mildred McClain
- Deborah Protho-Stith
- Bob Zellner
- Larry Ervin
- Rep. Tommie Brown
- Rev. Paul McDaniel
- Martin Luther King, III
- Leroy Keith
- Benjamin Chavia
- Reggie White
- Michael Heard
- Rev. David Shannon
- Jewell Taylor-Gibbs