Martin Luther King Day Advocate Dies

Former congresswoman Katie Hall, who sponsored the King holiday legislation, is dead at age 73.

Posted: 02/22/2012 11:15 AM EST

(Photo: Congress.gov)

Former Indiana congresswoman Katie Hall has died, but she leaves behind an enduring legacy as a history-maker. She was 73 years old.

 

Her husband, John Hall, reportedly said she died Monday in Gary, Indiana, from an undisclosed illness.

 

He said his wife was most proud of her work to make Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. She was with President Ronald Reagan and the late Coretta Scott King when the president signed it. 

 

In 1982, she became Indiana’s first Black member in the U.S. House of Representatives, having already served in the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate.

 

She lost her seat in Congress after one 2-year term, after she was defeated by Peter Visclosky, who currently holds the seat. 

 

Then, from 1988 to 2003, she served as city clerk in Gary, Indiana. Her tenure was rocked by trouble when she pleaded guilty to mail fraud in the felony corruption case against her. She was sentenced to house arrest and probation after she was accused of forcing workers in her office to raise money for her re-election campaign.

 

According to the Associated Press, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson released a statement saying, “She left a great legacy of love and concern for city, state and country as well as humanity, and her great work rising from the cotton fields of Mississippi to serve in the Congress of the United States of America."

 

 

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