9. New York Senator Defends MLK Day

people outside the US Capitol

When the U.S. Senate debated the federal holiday in 1983, Jesse Helms (R-NC) filibustered, reciting a statement on King’s opposition to the Vietnam War, “communist associates,” and womanizing. He then submitted a 300-page supplement to fellow Senators. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) declared the document a “packet of filth” and stomped it on the Senate floor.

This aide’s entertaining memo also featured Knicks legend “Dollar Bill” Bradley (D-NJ) standing up to opponents of the holiday: “I hear their rationalization. They are not against Black Americans, you understand. Just Dr. King… They are playing up to Old Jim Crow and all of us know it.” The bill enacting the holiday passed 78-22. New York State has celebrated MLK Day since its inception in 1986.