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Daniel F. Cracchiolo Law Library Blog: Blog

A Time in Arizona: MLK Day and the Governor Evan Mecham Impeachment Papers

by Jaime Valenzuela on 2022-01-18T12:58:00-07:00 | Comments

Yesterday we had the privilege to honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate MLK Day. A bill to establish the holiday was signed into law on November 2, 1983 by President Ronald Regan. 

“Dr. King had awakened something strong and true,” Regan said in the Rose Garden. “A sense that true justice must be colorblind, and that among white and black Americans, as he put it, ‘Their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom; we cannot walk alone.’” Quote from Remarks on Signing the Bill Making the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a National Holiday. Regan’s full remarks following the signing of the bill are available in the Public Papers of the Presidents, which are available online and physically in the Government Documents section of your Law Library (Location: lwdo).

Law Government Documents Location Code: LWDO

The King Holiday was first observed in 1986 and finally recognized by all 50 states in the year 2000. However, as recently as 1992, the state of Arizona did not recognize MLK Day. On November 6, 1990, the people of Arizona voted down two ballot propositions to create the holiday. This led to state wide boycotts, the loss of millions in economic revenue, and social outcry.

November 1992 Arizona Ballot Proposals on King Day

Written out of anger and the desire to address Arizona’s failure to honor the King Holiday, musical group Public Enemy released a track titled “By the Time I Get to Arizona” in 1991. The accompanying music video shows public officials being blown up, gunned down and poisoned. It also includes a reenactment of Dr. King’s assassination. The music video only aired once on MTV in 1991. 

Arizona Gov. Evan MechamPortrayed in the music video is former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham. The rescinding of the King Holiday in Arizona on January 12, 1987 was Mecham’s first official act as governor, following the declaration of the holiday in March 1986 by Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt. “Do I think King, the man, deserves a holiday? No,” Mecham said. In January 1993, the MLK Day Holiday was officially observed in Arizona. 

Governor Mecham was impeached just over a year after his inauguration on February 5, 1988. This followed a grand jury investigation into Mecham’s reported failure to disclose a $350,000 campaign loan.

For further insight into the Mecham impeachment, you are invited to review the Governor Evan Mecham Impeachment Papers, available in your Law Library. Processed by Collections Management Librarian Jessica Ugstad, these papers are comprised of materials donated to the James E. Rogers College of Law by alumnus Janice A. Wezelman (‘74). Most of the material centers on the indictment of Governor Mecham and his brother Willard and Governor Mecham’s impeachment proceedings in the Arizona State Legislature.

                    Mecham Impeachment Papers

The collection also contains material collected by Arizona Senator David Bartlett who, at the time of Governor Mecham’s impeachment hearings, was one of the members of the Arizona House of Representatives who interrogated him and was 1 of 46 representatives that voted in favor of impeachment. Finding aids for all of our non-College of Law produced manuscript collections can be found at Arizona Archives Online.


As always, if you have any research related questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! We are happy to help here at the law library.

You have 24/7 access to the library via your CatCard. Librarians and Fellows are available for reference questions Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. The Circulation desk is staffed from Monday-Thursday 8am-9pm, Friday 8am-5pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm. 

Email us for all research/reference questions, research appointment scheduling, and ALL QUESTIONS: reference@law-arizona.libanswers.com


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