Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
In 1999 the Bahá’ís of Paradise Valley initiated a proposal to commemorate this important National Holiday in conjunction with local officials in the Town of Paradise Valley. Starting in the year 2000 an Award was established to honor those working for harmony, justice, unity and diversity in society. In conjunction with local schools, an Essay Contest was conceived to engage students–our future leaders–in dialogue about the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the promotion of unity and the tackling of racism as a most vital and challenging issue facing America. Also in 2013, an annual community service project was initiated to promote action among youth and junior youth. The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Paradise Valley and the Bahá’í Community of Paradise Valley, founder and key sponsor of the event, would like to thank the Town of Paradise Valley, Mayor and City Council, City Manager, Police Department, and all the volunteers, speakers, musicians and committee members who have worked tirelessly for over a decade and a half to make this activity possible.