Monday, January 17, 2005
Open letter from John Conyers
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seems like a good time to remind everyone first, of the long-term effort it took to make this a national holiday, and secondly, that some of the same people who worked to gain real recognition for King's important civil rights work, continue decades later to fight for equal rights for all Americans.
The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
It took 15 years to create the federal Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Congressman John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan, first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday four days after King was assassinated in 1968. After the bill became stalled, petitions endorsing the holiday containing six million names were submitted to Congress.
Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Democrat of New York, resubmitted King holiday legislation each subsequent legislative session. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington.
Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. A compromise moving the holiday from Jan. 15, King's birthday, which was considered too close to Christmas and New Year's, to the third Monday in January helped overcome opposition to the law.John Conyers, although belittled and dismissed by some as a "conspiracy theorist" for his recent efforts to expose the full truth about the 2004 election, deserves respect for continuing to be a leader in the decades-long fight for civil rights.
On the front page of John Conyers' web site, there is an Open Letter Concerning the Election Challenge.
"I believe what we achieved on January 6 will be a seminal event in the history of progressive politics, and significantly advance the cause of electoral reform. For this challenge to Ohio’s electors to have occurred, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the internet activists, who spread the story of my efforts and supported me in every way possible. I am also thankful to the alternative media, including talk radio and blogs that gave substantial attention and investigation to these matters when all but a handful in the mainstream media refused to examine the facts. I cannot thank all of you personally, but you know who you are."
Click here for the rest, including his plans for the coming months. On Conyers' web site, there is also a link to his recent endorsement of Howard Dean for Chair of the DNC (in PDF format), an election reform survey, a volunteer form for people interested in helping him win his re-election campaign, and a place you can sign up for e-news updates.
There are many ways to honor the contributions and vision of Dr. King. One of those ways is to thank and support those who carry on his legacy--and, decades later, are still fighting the good fight.
Posted at 11:28 am by Renee_in_Ohio