The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination. Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed in 1986. Sen. John McCain like many others at the time felt that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office). Despite this McCain eventually reversed his position, and encouraged his home state of Arizona to recognize the holiday despite opposition from Arizona's Governor Evan Mecham. The media has highlighted many instances where McCain referred to his decision as a mistake. What these same media outlets however have failed to note is the many times McCain led the charge in cosponsoring bills honoring Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights heroes.
The following are just some of the bills and resolutions John McCain has cosponsored honoring African Americans.
John McCain Cosponsored A Bill To Award A Gold Medal On Behalf Of Congress, Collectively, To The Tuskegee Airmen In Recognition Of Their Unique Military Record. (S. 392, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 10/4/05)
John McCain Cosponsored A Resolution Honoring The Life Of Coretta Scott King And Expressing The Condolences Of The Senate On Her Passing. (S.Res. 362, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 1/31/06)
John McCain Cosponsored The National African American Museum Act. (S. 649, Introduced 3/30/95)
John McCain Cosponsored A Bill To Award A Gold Medal On Behalf Of Congress To Rosa Parks In Recognition Of Her Contributions To The Nation. (S. 531, Became Public Law No. 106-026, 5/4/99)
John McCain Cosponsored A Bill To Award A Gold Medal On Behalf Of Congress To Jackie Robinson (Posthumously), In Recognition Of His Many Contributions To The Nation, And To Express The Sense Of Congress That There Should Be A National Day In Recognition Of Jackie Robinson, And Also Introduced A Concurrent Resolution Honoring The Lifetime Achievements Of Jackie Robinson. (S. 300, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 10/17/03; H.R. 1900, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 10/17/03; H.R. 1900, Became Public Law No. 108-101, 10/29/03)
~The NAACP released a questioner that both McCain and Obama answered relating issues facing black America. It is a must read into the mindset of Sen. McCain on issues of race and justice.
The NAACP 2008 Presidential Candidates Civil Rights Questionnaire