Long after Martin Luther King’s birthday became a federal holiday there is an entire generation of people who have no idea about the political battle that was waged that allowed a dream of a few people to become a national political reality
That is the sentiment of Thomas Hart, a local lawyer and filmmaker who is excited that his project, “The Making of A Holiday,” will air in 80 markets across the county including, on ABC 7 on the eve of the King federal holiday.
“It took an enormous effort over 15 years for King’s birthday to become a holiday,” said Hart, who joined several others in turning out the film. “From Stevie Wonder to President Ronald Reagan who signed the bill into law, this effort involved millions of American people.”
The film, narrated by Actors LaVar Burton and Marla Gibbs,begins with footage of civil rights workers being beaten and hosed in Alabama and features Wonder, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy( D-Mass.) and the late Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. King. “In order to understand the importance of the holiday one must understand what Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights movement endured.”
, The film truly shows bipartisan cooperation jin which House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O’Neill (D-Mass.) and President Ronald Reagan worked with the King family and the Congressional Black Caucus to make the bill a federal law.
The film was first released in 1986, when the federal observance began. But Hart said he thought that the interest in the holiday waned in the years that followed. He said the film aired on a limited number of cable outlets until this year when the dedication of the King Memorial sparked a renewed interest in King’s legacy.
“I have always loved communications,” said Hart a 1973 graduate of Woodrow Wilson who said he developed an interest in storytelling at the college radio station while he attended Brown University in Rhode Island.
After graduation, Hart moved back to Washington to attend law school at Georgetown and then launched a telecommunications law practice.
Hart said he viewed it as an accomplishment for a small local Washington -based production company to produce a film that will be shown in coming days in more than 80 television markets. On Friday his father, wife, children and friends hosted a special reception to mark the occasion.
“I feel really good about this project,” Hart said. “The principles and practices of Dr. King are still necessary and effective 50 years after his passing.”