Arizona’s Struggle to Recognize MLK Day As a National Holiday


Did you know that Arizona was one of the last states in the country to recognize the now nationwide holiday known as MLK Day?

According to National Geographic, Arizona didn’t recognize the day until 1992, after losing millions of dollars when the National Football League Super Bowl boycotted the state in protest.

That’s right! It took football to get MLK Day observed in the Grand Canyon state. 

NFL owners voted to remove the 1993 Super Bowl from Phoenix after Arizona voters failed to acknowledge it as a paid holiday on March 19, 1991. 

The colossal game was subsequently pulled from the January 31, 1993 game at the State Farm Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. and moved to Los Angeles because of this controversial decision.

According to the Arizona State Library, then Governor Bruce Babbitt originally declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day an Arizona holiday on March 18, 1986.

His proclamation was repealed by Governor Mecham in 1987 on the grounds that Babbitt did not have the authority to declare such a holiday.

Arizonans were arguably for and against a repeal of the holiday for a variety of reasons, but it wasn’t until the state lost an estimated $500 million in revenue that Arizona voters reinstated the holiday.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated, “the time is always right to do what is right.”

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