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Arizona marks 30 years of observing MLK Day

warren stewart
Maarcus Hall
Warren Stewart Sr.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Arizona’s first observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

President Ronald Reagan signed the federal holiday into law in 1983, but Arizona was the last state to recognize it. The controversial holdout cost the state its first Super Bowl.

Arizona became the only state to approve the holiday by a popular vote, with the state’s residents passing a measure in 1992.

The Rev. Warren Stewart is a civil rights activist who recalls the long, difficult process as the first chairman of the "Arizonans for MLK Holiday" in 1989.

“Yes we had to fight for it more than any other state in the union, but we came out on top by making history as the only state to vote overwhelmingly for a King Holiday," Stewart said. 

Stewart added that a three-day Progressive National Baptist Convention is starting Monday in Phoenix as well to note the state milestone.

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.