Many people in Arizona held marches and celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day long before it was officially recognized as a state holiday. Arizona resisted passing the King holiday as a state holiday and had a two-part voter referendum in November 1990 to determine the fate of the King holiday in Arizona. Arizona was the only state in the nation that had its citizens vote. In addition to statewide boycotts, the National Football League threatened to move the 1993 Super Bowl from Tempe, AZ if the holiday referendum was defeated by the voters.
The referendum did not pass and the National Football League moved the 1993 Super Bowl to Pasadena, CA resulting in an estimated half a billion dollar revenue loss to Arizona. In 1991, the Arizona Legislature passed and sent to its voters a proposition to make the third Monday in January a paid state holiday known as the Martin Luther King Jr./Civil Rights Day. Arizona voters approved the holiday on November 3, 1992.
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