October 30, 2020

Mississippi native spearheaded creation of Martin Luther King holiday

As millions of Americans celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, most probably have no idea that the holiday was created in part by the efforts of Mississippi Delta native.

Katie Green Hall was born on April 3, 1938, in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. She was one of 12 children. and went on to graduate from Mississippi Vocational College (now called Mississippi Valley State University) with a degree in political science.

Hall was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Representative Adam Benjamin of Indiana in 1982. In doing so, she became the first African-American woman to represent the state of Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As a freshmen federal legislator Hall introduced House of Representatives Bill. H.R. 3706. commonly known as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Law Bill.

After hotly contested debates in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America, signed into law on Nov. 2, 1983, Hall’s version of “The King Bill”.

The nation would thenceforth in Jan. 1986 observe the first national holiday in honor of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday on the third Monday in January, as stated in U.S. Representative Hall’s legislation.

As a result, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the only African-American in the history of the United States Congress to be honored with a national holiday.