On Monday, Jan. 21, millions of Americans and citizens in more than 100 countries around the world will observe the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.
But, did you know that an alumna of Mississippi Valley State University was behind the bill that would create MLK Day, the first national holiday in honor of an African American?
As a freshmen federal legislator, U.S. Rep. Katie Green Hall, a 1960 graduate of MVSU, authored and 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.
A native of Mound Bayou, Miss., Hall graduated from Mississippi Vocational College (now MVSU), with a degree in Political Science. The ambitious Hall had a desire to one day serve in the United States House of Representatives. This dream would become a reality when she was appointed to fulfill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Representative Adam Benjamin, Jr.(D-TN) in Sept. of 1982.
While working on issues affecting Indiana's First Congressional District, Hall had as one of her legislative goals to memorialize the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the form of a national holiday.
After lobbying and securing passage of "The King Bill" in the United States House of Representatives with a vote of 338-90, Hall stated, “Men and women of goodwill on both sides of the aisle showed this was a human concern, not a political or racial issue."
She further commented, "Martin Luther King. Jr. gave to this great country a new understanding of equality and justice for all. …this legislation will act as a national commitment to Dr. King's vision of an ideal America."
In later years, HalI often reflected on King's great legacy of love and service to the world based on his philosophy of non-violence.
On July 9, 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant proclaimed "Katie Hall Day" throughout the entire State of Mississippi, commemorating the 13th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. national holiday observance.
The congresswoman is reportedly the first MVSU alumnus to receive this distinction from Mississippi’s Office of the Governor.
Hall passed away on Feb. 20, 2012, in Gary Indiana. She was 73.
In the spirit of service to humanity, the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc. is carrying forth the legacy Hall, with a mission to make America and the world a better place for humanity, regardless of race, national origin. and religion.
To learn more about the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc., visit www.katiehallfoundation.homestead.com.