Obit of the Day: Honored a King
Rep. Katie Hall only served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Appointed to her seat in 1983 after the death of Rep. Adam Benjamin, Jr., and then winning in the general election, Mrs. Hall was instrumental in passage of the law establishing the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. A bill to honor Dr. King with a national day of recognition was first introduced in 1968 after his death, but it remained stalled in the Congress. Ms. Hall, who represented the Indiana district that including the city of Gary, pushed hard for the bill and it was signed by President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983. (MLK Day was not added officially to the federal calendar until January 1986.)
Just two years later Mrs. Hall lost the Democratic primary to Peter Visclosky, who is still serving in the House. Hall returned to Gary and was named city clerk in 1988 by her political mentor, Mayor Richard G. Hatcher. Unfortunately, Mrs. Hall’s political career ended on a rather sour note - she was arrested and convicted of mail fraud, racketeering, and extortion for forcing her employees to work on political campaigns during business hours. She served her time under house arrest.
Mrs. Hall was 73 years old.
(Image of President Reagan signing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day law is courtesy of wikimedia.org. Mrs. Hall is second from the left standing next to Coretta Scott King, wife of the civil rights leader. I could not identify the other three men in the photo. If you know who they are, please send me a note.)