adidas cricket shoes How Stevie Wonder helped create Martin Luther King Day
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) Millions of Americans are celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday throughout this weekend.
The country’s most well known civil rights activist would’ve turned 89 years old if he was still alive in 2018. This holiday has been in existence for at least 31 years but was not fully recognized by all 50 states as a government holiday until 2000, according to the National Constitution Center.
Efforts to create the holiday didn’t happen swiftly either. After Rep. John Conyers introduced the concept four days after King’s assassination, a bill to create the holiday didn’t pass until 1983 15 years after Conyers first started the notion.
To help push the holiday through, Wonder produced and sang a song titled “Happy Birthday” in 1980. In the lyrics, Wonder referred to ongoing efforts to make King’s birthday an official holiday and celebration.
“You know it doesn’t make much sense, there ought to be a law against, anyone who takes offense, at a day in your celebration,” Wonder says in the song. “Cause we all know in our minds, that there ought to be a time, that we can set aside, to show just how much we love you.”
The song became “a rallying cry for the holiday,” according to The King Center.
During an interview with CNN in 1983, Wonder expressed the importance of giving a holiday to “a man who died for the principles of this country.”
“It would be a day for us to reflect upon our responsibilities as human beings. As recognizing all of those who have lived and died for the principles of peace and unity and equality for all people,” Wonder said. that would advocate for the holiday. Wonder and King’s wife Coretta Scott King also sent a petition with over 6 million signatures to Rep. Tip O’Neill supporting the cause.
Wonder spoke to CNN again in 2011 after the holiday had already been celebrated for 25 years. The singer reiterated his stance on the importance of the holiday by saying that King was “for economic, social and civil justice for everyone.”
“He spoke of finding solutions non violently and as well he believed in a place of peace that had to exist between all people of this country,” Wonder said. “We can disagree without feeling that we have to spew out words of bitterness or hatred, that doesn’t represent a place of unity.”
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