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Champions of King holiday to accept award from ASU

January 13, 2014

The first national King holiday was observed in 1986 at the delegation of President Ronald Reagan. Four years later in Arizona, the Victory Campaign was established as a proponent of a bill proposing a paid state holiday. While it was not successful, community leaders Bill Shover, Paul Eppinger and Warren H. Stewart refused to give up the fight. 

The team reassembled under the direction of Stewart to fight for this symbol of equality. In November 1992 the second initiative finally passed, with a 61 percent vote. Arizona became the only state to put such a vote to the people and have it passed.   

Now, the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee at Arizona State University has presented the Victory Together campaign with the MLK Jr. Servant-Leadership Award.

Both Shover and Eppinger will accept the award at an invitation-only celebratory breakfast on Jan. 23 at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

“It is such an honor to receive this award. It was one of the proudest days of my life. Warren and his people did a marvelous job,” said Shover.

Looking back, Eppinger says that establishing the holiday was the “moral thing to do.”

“There wasn’t a question that the integrity of the state depended on the bill passing. It feels great that ASU is honoring that which occurred 21 years ago,” he said.

The passing of the bill also meant the National Football League would continue with plans to hold the 1996 Superbowl in Sun Devil Stadium at ASU’s Tempe campus. This news brought national attention to Arizona and reshaped the state’s image.