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In this podcast, we’ll look back to a few addresses delivered by President Reagan in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. As you recall, beginning almost immediately after King’s assassination in April 1968, members of Congress proposed that his birthday ought to be a national holiday, but bills mandating the occasion went nowhere. The effort received more publicity when, after about a decade, shortly after the failure of a bill that was introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan in September of 1979, Stevie Wonder released a song called “Happy Birthday.” Despite its cheery title, it was specifically meant to make a case for the holiday, calling out anyone who didn’t support the idea. In 1982, Coretta Scott King and Stevie Wonder presented a petition with more than six million signatures in support of the holiday to the then speaker of the house. In November 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing the third Monday of January as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday.
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