Public Advocacy

The Congressional Black Caucus, along with a coalition of organizations, appealed for nationwide support of a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Their earliest efforts included grassroots outreach. The CBC members spoke to their constituents about the legislative process surrounding the King Holiday Bill. They encouraged a movement within the communities to rally and show support for the bill. Marches and demonstrations were held across the country, and the CBC was a very visible presence at some of these demonstrations.

Before the King Holiday Bill passed in the U.S. Congress, many states enacted statewide holiday celebrations. These state-run celebrations were often used as a platform to call for a federal holiday.

In January of 1983, the CBC, entertainer Stevie Wonder, and the coalition decided to call a strategy meeting instead of having a national march to press for the holiday. At the meeting, it was decided to prioritize legislative lobbying for a federal holiday.

During the strategy session held in the Cannon House Office Building, the legislative strategy was outlined. The approach included direct appeals to all members of Congress from individuals, groups and organizations. The appeals would culminate in the 20th Anniversary Celebration and reenactment of King’s 1963 March on Washington.

The successful strategy resulted in the approval of the bill in the House of Representatives, paving the way for the next step-Senate approval.

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