With over 3 million signatures, King’s wife issued a petition to Congress advocating for the holiday in 1971. Two years later, an Illinois state representative, Harold Washington, who had been elected the first black mayor of Chicago, introduced a bill making Illinois the first state to recognize MLK Day. Unfortunately, when the bill went before Congress again in 1979, it still failed by five votes despite support from President Jimmy Carter.
It wasn’t until November 1983, following a heated congressional moment that could have potentially revoked the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when Reagan signed the bill declaring every third Monday of January to be celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To view the entire ibtimes.com webpage click here.