WPR News
11:42 am
Mon January 21, 2008

Legislator Fought to Get MLK Day Recognized

Laramie, WY – A former legislator from Laramie County says she regards her work to get Wyoming to recognize the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as one of her greatest accomplishments.

Harriett Elizabeth Byrd says she's experienced discrimination firsthand. And she says she believes in everything that King stood for.

Byrd says it took almost nine years to get a bill through the Wyoming Legislature honoring King in the 1980s. Wyoming was one of the last states to make the birthday of the slain civil rights leader a state holiday.

A compromise finally gave Byrd's bill enough support to pass in the Legislature. The holiday was named Martin Luther King, Jr./Wyoming Equality Day _ a nod to Wyoming's history of being the first state to give women the right to vote.

Byrd says that after working on the bill for such a long time, the addition of the ``Equality Day'' language didn't matter. She says King was all about equality.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal and other state officials plan to participate in the Martin Luther King Day march at noon tomorrow (Monday) at the Union Pacific Depot in Cheyenne. Other celebrations are planned around the state.