Creating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday was no easy feat. The first attempt to codify it on the federal calendar died in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. Even the subsequent legislative effort, four years later, faced stiff filibustering action in the Senate. The late Jesse Helms threw a “red” (i.e. Communist) flag at the assassinated civil rights leader accusing his whole movement as being grounded in Marxism. One pop culture element of countering the opposition was Stevie Wonder’s memorable “Happy Birthday” hit. The song was actually recorded and released to help muster support for the holiday.

A short history lesson in honor of the day is called for. Below — from the pages of my book The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation — enjoy and edify yourself with this nonfiction comics encapsulation of African-American history, post-Civil War to Civil Rights.

You can find out more about the The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation here.

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