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Once Reluctant To Adopt Holiday, Arizona Now Embraces MLK Legacy

Published: Monday, January 16, 2017 - 3:44pm
(public domain image)
Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech, Aug. 28, 1963.

Arizonans have joined the rest of the nation in celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the state is still trying to shake the image as being one of the last to officially observe the holiday.

Former Phoenix Councilman Calvin Goode, of the city’s first African-American elected officials, remembers the turbulent times in the fight for civil rights in the South, and here in Arizona.

"We’ve made progress here, and I’m grateful for that," Goode said. "I’m calling on all citizens to help me to continue to treat all citizens with proper respect."

State voters adopted MLK Day as a holiday in 1992 after the NFL pulled the Super Bowl from Arizona the year before and a tourist boycott ensued. Only New Hampshire waited longer to declare it a paid state holiday in 1999.

Among the events around the Valley to honor the civil-rights leader are a parade and festival in at the Mesa Arts Center and the Annual King Day March from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church near downtown Phoenix.