Godfather of Soul "instrumental" in MLK Holiday

By: Melissa Tune Email
By: Melissa Tune Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock, January 18, 2010

AUGUSTA,Ga.-- The Martin Luther King, Jr.holiday is observed in all 50 states but it took a lot of political lobbying for it to happen. In fact, South Carolina was one of the last states to recognize the day. Georgia,however, had a famous lobbyist on it's side. Here's a little known fact: The Godfather of Soul - James Brown was part of the driving force behind the holiday.

When you think of politics, you may not think of the Godfather of Soul but James Brown was quite instrumental in helping promote a Martin Luther king,Jr. Holiday in the state of Georgia and the United States.

Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr.and James Brown were two sons of Georgia and two men with messages.

"When I woke up this morning, I know that MLK Day is the day we're celebrating, but I also thought about the Godfather of Soul," says Timothy Snell, AKA Minnesota Fattz, with KISS-FM Radio.

Fattz says that it is perhaps partly because of James Brown that we celebrate MLK Day at all. Brown was one the advocates who pushed for the holiday.

"Most people don't know that the Godfather of Soul, was a Republican,"adds Fattz.

Not only that but Brown was also friends with many politicians like Former President Richard Nixon. Minnesota Fattz connects the dots.

"I remember him telling me that he was going to see the President and fight for what's right and of course to keep the legacy alive with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday," says the radio host.

And the proof --- is in a picture. It was 1982 when Rev. Al Sharpton and James Brown visited President Ronald Reagan to lobby for the Martin Luther King federal holiday. President Reagan later signed the bill.

"James Brown and President Reagan had great ties together," adds Fattz.

Brown's daughter, Deanna continues the story.

"They went to talk to Ronald Reagan at the time because Dad felt that it was very important that he sit down with the President along with Rev. Al Sharpton," says Deanna.

"They wanted to express that it was important for African-Americans and for all Americans to have this holiday."

Brown also talks about the unmistakable ties between her father and Dr. King.

"One was a preacher and one was singer, but the message was the same," adds Deanna.

The messages are: stay in school promote nonviolence and treat each other equally - regardless of race.

"He was very instrumental in civil rights movement," says Deanna. "He's larger than life, because after death we're still talking about the messages that he had."

Deanna says her father shared in the struggle with Dr. King and was proud of MLK Day.. Fattz echos the message.

Mr. Brown believed in keeping the dream alive fighting for a legacy of what Dr. King stood for," says Fattz "All races coming together. It was no color bearer."

James Brown had the opportunity to meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on many occasions and those who knew Jame Brown the best say that he received several music awards throughout his music career but one of the most prized possessions that he received was the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award. The award was the last award he received before passing away Christmas Day in 2006..

Utah becomes the last state to recognize the holiday by name, renaming its human rights day state holiday.South Carolina becomes the last state to make the day a paid holiday for all state employees. Before that,employees could choose between celebrating it or one of Three Confederate-related holidays.


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