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Left-right, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Rev. Arizona Hall, Atty. Junifer Hall, Atty. Jacqueline Hall, Atty. John Henry Hall, and Gary City Council President Ron Brewer

State historical marker in Gary for Katie Hall and King Holiday

Contributed By:The 411 News

A tribute to the making of the national holiday

Joining state historical markers for Froebel School and the Stewart Settlement House, another Indiana State Historical Marker was unveiled Saturday in Gary’s midtown section.

The U.S. Representative Katie Hall and Passage of the Dr. MLK, Jr. National Holiday Law marker is a memorial to Hall and her work to pass the 1983 bill that created the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

During her only term in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Hall was able to get the legislation passed. Michigan’s Rep. John Conyers first introduced a King Holiday bill soon after Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. Hall revised the legislation and President Ronald Reagan signed it in November 1983.

Hall was Indiana’s first black member to the U.S. Congress.

The unveiling followed the Katie Hall Education Foundation’s annual luncheon, held earlier Saturday in the Gary Genesis Center. Steve Sanders, WGN-TV9 Chicago anchor and a recipient of the 2019 KHEF Chairman’s Award noted, “I’ll never see another Martin Luther King Holiday without thinking of the lady who made it happen.”

Sanders drew connections to the day’s significance. He was a teenager in Birmingham on the day of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963. “It was my father’s birthday. In route to his birthday dinner, we passed the streets barricaded with police cars, and learned later that day four little girls were killed. Fourteen years later as a journalist, I covered the trial of Robert Chambliss, the first man convicted in the bombings and sentenced to life in prison.”

“As I wrote about that trial,” Sanders said, “I was flooded with memories of the church bombing. From that day I realized I wanted my moral universe to be on the right side of history. That’s why it’s such a validation to be here accepting this award.”

Sanders never met Hall, but many who spoke at the luncheon and unveiling of the marker knew her well.

For Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, whose mother was Hall’s Avon lady, the marker is a great honor for the city. “To have a marker for the place Hall holds in our nation’s history is a testament to Gary. She was a congresswoman of the people.”

Dorothy Leavelle, Editor-Publisher of the Gary Crusader and Chicago Crusader, was awarded the KHEF Public Service Award. Leavelle is a longtime friend of Hall and her family. Accepting her award, she applauded the family for their perseverance in helping the state and the nation remember Katie Hall. “Rep. Conyers tried for 15 years. Stevie Wonder sang about it. Katie Hall came in and said let’s get this bill passed. That’s the mark of a Garyite.”

For Andrew Green, his big sister was a role model. “I’ll never forget what my mother said Katie told her when she was a young girl. ‘I am going to be famous some day.’ We had no idea that the King Holiday was going to be her most famous accomplishment.”

The marker sits in the little triangle park at the corner of Madison Street and 19th Avenue, a few doors from Hall’s home.

Atty. John Henry Hall, widower of Katie Hall, said the park was a gift to the community from the Means Manor developers. Powers & Sons donated and constructed the concrete pad that holds the marker.

Story Posted:04/07/2019

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