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Martin Luther King, Jr. - Idaho Human Rights Day Celebration Today at Capitol


Martin Luther King, Jr., in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / PUBLIC DOMAIN
Gem State lawmakers will pause at noon today to honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but the legacy of the Idaho Legislature isn't as noble as the slain civil rights leader who would have been 88 years old today.

The official national holiday was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, but it wasn't until 1990 that then-Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus signed legislation making Idaho the 47th state to recognize an official King state holiday. The designation came, however, after a string of Idaho lawmakers argued against giving another paid holiday to state employees and questioned the importance of Dr. King. Ultimately, in an effort to pacify legislators opposed to the King honor, it was decided that the third Monday of January would be known as "Idaho Human Rights Day."

All county, state, federal and most city offices will be closed today, while the legislature remains in session. Post offices, most banks and most schools are also closed today.

At Boise State University, the annual MLK Living Legacy Celebration got underway early this morning with a poster-making party in preparation of a Day of Greatness march to the Idaho Capitol Building.

Inside the Capitol, the Idaho Human Rights Day celebration will get underway at noon with a keynote address from Francisco Salinas, Director for Student Diversity and Inclusion at Boise State.

"It's really a day on, not a day off," Salinas said in 2017. "It's an opportunity to honor a legacy that challenges us to create a better world. Those triple evils of racism, poverty and war require our attention more than ever. If you shrink from that responsibility, it's on you."

The celebration at the Idaho Statehouse today will also feature performances by Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo and Common Ground.