Yesterday UNT, along with other state institutions, observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, stated upon the bill’s ratification that “This is not a black holiday; it is a people’s holiday.” Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed for the first time in the United States three years later on January 20, 1986. Many states, including Texas, did not initially observe the paid holiday in 1986. In fact, MLK Day was not observed by every U.S. state until the year 2000. Today some states observe the holiday under a different name (it’s known as “Human Rights Day” in Idaho and “Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Day” in Arizona and New Hampshire) or combine the holiday with memorials for confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson (Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Virginia). A recent New York Times article proves that the holiday is still contested more than thirty years after its implementation.

On January 20, 1986, KXAS reporter Ramona Logan reported on Dallas-Forth Worth residents’ reactions to the day for the 6:00 news. Some Texas employees chose to take a vacation day in honor of Dr. King, while others chose to honor his memory through their vocations. Dallas schools closed for the day but Fort Worth schools remained open.

[News Clip: MLK Closings] on The Portal to Texas History.

This footage was rescued from a “U-matic” 3/4 tape. The characteristic image and sound degradation of an aged U-matic tape is apparent in the digital copy, which highlights why this format is a major preservation priority for archivists and librarians.

Further reading:

“A Brief History of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.” Time.

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