Stevie Wonder's Civil Rights Battle For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Stevie Wonder Singing
Cydney Smith
November 1, 2021

Ever since MLK was assassinated in 1968, Stevie Wonder had a mission to keep the dream alive. And to him, creating a holiday for the slain hero was the best way. But it didn’t happen overnight.

For 15 years, Wonder fought for Martin Luther King Day alongside civil rights legends and other Black singers. He even put his career on hold to lead nationwide rallies. But his most powerful contribution was composing his famous version of “Happy Birthday.”

He and Bob Marley planned to rally for the holiday on a four-month-long tour! Though Bob Marley sadly fell ill before the tour began, the concerts still happened. But a white hater was out to make trouble.

Ronald Reagan, who was newly elected president at the time, opposed the holiday, supposedly because of the cost. Despite his efforts to stop it from happening, he finally relented after Wonder’s final tour stop at the National Mall in D.C. – the very place King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Wonder refused to give up, even in the face of obstacles and white hatred. He organized those in his network and his resources to make a difference. Let’s keep this same energy when we want to make a difference for causes we care about!

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