Crossing the line separating Indiana and Illinois sometimes means dealing with different laws and customs. Readers are asked to share ideas for this weekly feature. This week: Martin Luther King Day.
Illinois was the first state in the nation to designate the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as a state holiday.
Shortly after King's 1968 assassination, state Rep. Harold Washington, D-Chicago, who later would serve four years as Chicago mayor, filed legislation creating the holiday. It became law in 1973.
That same year, Indiana state Sen. Rudy Clay, D-Gary, proposed a state holiday honoring King. The measure never got a committee hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The holiday legislation was refiled in subsequent years by state Reps. Carolyn Mosby and Charlie Brown, both D-Gary, and regularly approved by the Indiana House.
In 1986, Brown and state Rep. Hurley Goodall, D-Muncie, employed a clever legislative maneuver to finally win passage by the recalcitrant Senate.
Martin Luther King Day also first was celebrated as a federal holiday in 1986 — thanks in large part to work by U.S. Rep. Katie Hall, D-Gary.