In this video from the NewsHour archives, Ronald Reagan’s signs into law a bill granting a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Watch Congressional veterans Bob Dole and the late Ted Kennedy — and even a very-young Joe Biden — as they belt out “We Shall Overcome.”
It was a rare sight. Members of Congress standing on the grounds of the White House Rose Garden joined together in song.
The occasion: President Ronald Reagan signing into law a bill that honored Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday recognizing the civil rights leader’s life and contributions to the country.
Despite the singing that fall day in 1983, passing a bill to honor King 15 years after his assassination had been anything but a harmonious effort.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., first introduced legislation to recognize King’s accomplishments four days after the reverend was killed outside a motel in Memphis, Tenn.
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