by Don Mizell
I was an active participant in Stevie Wonder’s campaign to create the MLK National Holiday. At that time I was working closely with him as a counselor generally and managing his newly acquired radio station KJLH-FM in Los Angeles as VP/GM/PD. KJLH played an integral role in galvanizing timely public support for the Holiday and was crucial to the success of the January Rally in Washington, D.C. attended by nearly 500,000.
In my role as a chief strategist/marketing consultant and speechwriter in the campaign I authored Stevie’s historic speech (which was reprinted in its entirety in the New York Times and disseminated worldwide by Reuters). The early passage of legislation in California created one of the first MLK state laws in the country. This triggered a domino effect nationally culminating in the U.S. Congress passing a similar bill which President Reagan signed into law.
I was awarded an NAACP Image Award in part because of my seminal work in guiding the station’s efforts on behalf of the successful quest to ‘create the first national holiday in American history in honor of an African American and his contribution to the nation’s progress in better achieving its constitutional principles and democratic ideals’.