On April 4, 1985 Colorado's Governor Dick Lamm signed the legislation into law making the birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a Colorado holiday.

The Making of the Holiday

On Monday, January 20, 1986, in cities and towns across the country people celebrated the first official Dr. Martin Luther King Day, the only federal holiday commemorating an African-American.

A ceremony, which took place at an old railroad depot in Atlanta Georgia, was especially emotional. Hundreds had gathered to sing and to march.

Many were the same people who, in 1965, had marched for fifty miles between two cities in the state of Alabama to protest segregation and discrimination of black Americans.

All through the 1980's, controversy surrounded the idea of a King Day. Congressional representatives and citizens had petitioned the President to make January 15th, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, a federal holiday. Others wanted to make the holiday on the day he died, while some people did not want to have any holiday at all.

January 15th had been observed as a public holiday for many years in 27 states and Washington, D.C. Finally, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan declared the third Monday in January a federally legal holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King' Jr.'s birthday.

Colorado MLK Celebration History

On April 4, 1985 Colorado's Governor Dick Lamm signed the legislation into law making the birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a Colorado holiday.

At this time, Wilma J. Webb, announced that Colorado would have the first ever Marade, a word created by merging March and Parade. As an American politician, she sponsored dozens of bills but is best known for sponsoring legislation that adopted Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as a Colorado state holiday prior to it becoming a national holiday, and for her efforts to educate youth about King's legacy. She married Wellington Webb in 1969, who later became the first African American Mayor of Denver, serving from 1991 to 2003 and she becoming the First Lady of Denver.

Friday, January 17, 1986 the MLK Commission hosted the first Business Social Responsibility Luncheon.
Sunday, January 19, 1986 the MLK Commission hosted the first Interfaith Services.

Commissioners

Vern L Howard

Commission Chair

Charleszine Terry Nelson

Vice Chair

Barbara Shannon Banister

Treasurer

Shyretta Hudnal

Statewide Special Events Chair

We are People Youth Committee

Shyretta Hudnal

Committee Chair

Alton Clark

Vice Chair

Michael Hughes

Youth Advisor

Myjae Maloy

Youth Advisor

Sunita Hudnall

Secretary