Lt. Governor Antone’s MLK Day Message Finds Common Themes
Gila River Indian News
During a video message to the Gila River Indian Community members on Jan. 17, Lt. Gov. Monica Antone discussed the history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, recognizing him for his life’s work in pursuing equality for all Americans and how his legacy relates to indigenous Communities.
“The concept of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions,” said Lt. Gov. Antone. “After King’s death, U.S. Representative John Conyers and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday.”
She added the vote to establish a holiday faced several hurdles in the U.S. House of Representatives, where opponents questioned the legitimacy of creating a holiday in King’s name. Some objected to the proposed holiday because King was a private citizen and never held a public office.
During the push to get the holiday passed, Lt. Gov. Antone said, “Six million signatures were collected for a petition for Congress to pass the law and (it) is considered the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history. President Reagan originally opposed the holiday, citing cost concerns. But on Nov. 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall, to create a federal holiday honoring King. The bill had passed the Senate by a count of 78 to 22 and the House of Representatives by 338 to 90.”
It was not until Jan. 20, 1986, that MLK Day, as it became known, was established. It is observed on the third Monday of January, which is not King’s actual birthday. The day is chosen based on the guidelines of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, a bill passed to hold all federal holidays on Mondays. “Mr. King led numerous marches for African American people to include the right to vote, desegregation, and labor rights,” said Lt. Gov. Antone, also noting that King, a Baptist minister, urged equality for all based on his Christian beliefs.
One of King’s most powerful moments was the famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 23, 1963, during the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King also received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his work promoting civil rights.
Lt. Gov. Antone highlighted common themes between the struggles of African Americans and Indigenous people across the North America and the efforts to gain rights to freedoms enjoyed by others.
“I believe today is a day to remember all races,” said Lt. Gov. Antone. “Our ancestors also sacrificed, but truly believe that our leaders forts to gain rights to freedoms enjoyed by others.
“I believe today is a day to remember all races,” said Lt. Gov. Antone. “Our ancestors also sacrificed, but truly believe that our leaders made headway to work with non-natives to fight for land we had right to. (The) Five Tribes Peace Treaty is one example. As we are closed today in our state in honor of MLK, let’s continue to pray for peace.”