On November 2, 1983, President Reagan signed into law national legislation designating the third Monday in January a national holiday in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK). At the end of 1992, except for New Hampshire that had a Civil Rights Day that did not mention MLK specifically, every state and the District of Columbia (including the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands) had established some form of a MLK holiday. However, only Arizona voters decided the holiday issue via a statewide ballot initiative. Voters finally approved an initiative in 1992 after rejecting a similar one in 1990. Rejection of the 1990 proposal evoked national condemnation and provoked sanctions from organizations ranging from the National Football League to the National League of Cities. While the white community provided excuses, the black community reacted with charges of racism. Building on the traditional literature which links white contributions to black political gains to white political tolerance, this study explores the extent to which data gathered from white voters on the holiday support hypotheses drawn from the political tolerance model. Analysis indicate results that conform to the expectations of the model. Less educated, older, politically conservative, LDS, and rural white Arizonas are less likely to voice approval for such a holiday.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science