Many states did not want to have another holiday in general and some of them did not want to honor King specifically. Various names were developed to avoid calling the holiday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Martin Luther King, Jr. has been dead for more years than he lived on earth.
While I was too young to care much about the landmark 1954 civil rights case of Brown v. Board of Education I was an eager participant in marches promoting the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964.
I had quite an awakening when I realized how segregated my life had been. I grew up in a mountain town with a very small black population. I never attended school with a black person until I went to college. I assumed that the separation of people by race was everyone's preference.
My parents were basically good people, but they resented King, his marches, and the Freedom Riders. To them, northern agitators were stirring up problems in the south. After all, "our negroes" were quite happy with the way things were and would be uncomfortable going to school with whites. Despite the feelings of my parents, at an early age I was mesmerized by the speeches of Martin Luther King. I admired what he said and his words gave me more understanding of racial problems than any other single thing. Perhaps my sharpest and most painful memory was the sight of young children attacked by dogs and fierce flow from water hoses. When I watched it crying, my parents were not pleased and sent me to my room.
I have since read the three volumes of Taylor Branch's histories about the civil rights movement. I can highly recommend these books although they are very lengthy and in great detail. I can assure you that whether you lived through the movement, or read about it in school, these books will shed light on how things were and how they moved forward.
Parting the Waters chronicles the happenings between 1954 and 1963, and earned Branch the Pulitzer Prize for history.
Pillar of Fire covers the years 1963-1965.
At Canaan's Edge, the final book in the trilogy covers America between 1965 and 1968.
It will take you quite a while to read the entire trilogy, but it will definitely be time well spent. I am fascinated by the history of blacks in the south. [NOTE: I do not use the phrase "African-American." Most blacks are no more African than I am Irish. In general, we do not refer to people based on the home of their long-dead ancestors. I really hate it when I hear people talk about an African-American in the UK, a person who has never even visited the United States!) I especially love reading about the local Civil Rights Movement and our area's involvement in the Civil War.
Here in the mountains, there was little slavery and loyalties were divided house by house (and often within the same house) during the Civil War. The women left behind were more often threatened by the scalawags who remained than by the Union Army. There were slaves in western North Carolina, generally brought to the area to serve the wealthy plantation owners who came to the mountains for a respite from the hot summers in South Carolina and Georgia. With a few exceptions, slaves who might have died here were buried in separate, often unmarked graves. There were some cemeteries that allotted a portion to be used for blacks, but the graves were usually not marked by name. One of our local cemeteries contains a large area of graves marked by stones with no engraving at all. These stones mark the graves of the black slaves buried there.
This section of the cemetery is marked by a large stone with the following plaque:
If you wish to honor Dr. King, then make next Monday a day of doing service. And if you want a more comprehensive understanding of the Civil Rights Movement in America, start reading Branch's books.