Music Video Flashback: Remember When Arizona Refused To Celebrate MLK Day?

Public Enemy In NYC
Photos: Public Enemy fought the power in Arizona in 1991. (Getty)

If the ’80s and ’90s hip-hop band Public Enemy were still spitting politically charged rhymes, we have a feeling they would have a thing or two to say about Arizona. Again.

In 2010, Arizona  gained national and international attention over anti-immigrant law SB 1070, which authorizes law enforcement to demand proof of  immigration status from any arrested or detained person whom they suspect of being in the country illegally.

Now, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has the option to sign a religious freedom bill, SB 1062, which allows business to discriminate against LGBT customers and refuse service if they feel like it goes against their personal religious beliefs.

The bill has gotten loads of opposition, even from conservatives such as Arizona senator and 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain and former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Brewer has until Saturday to sign the bill into law or veto it.

But it was back in the ’90s when Public Enemy’s beef with Arizona was sparked. State lawmakers couldn’t agree on whether Arizona should observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and when placed in the hands of voters in 1990, they voted to reject the holiday.

Ignorance is not always bliss. According to The Arizona Republic, “The NFL had already cautioned that if a holiday was not approved, it would consider relocating the 1993 Super Bowl planned for Sun Devil Stadium. The league wanted to avoid the racial controversy. After the ballot measures failed, the league followed through, moving the game to Pasadena, California.”

Two years later, voters approved the day as a state holiday. Many activists felt it was due to fear that opposing it would continue to hurt tourism.

Take a look back with Public Enemy’s music video for “By The Time I Get to Arizona” below.

For the record, Arizona isn’t the only state pushing for religious freedom discriminatory legislation. Check out what’s happening near you, and contact your legislators to let them know how you feel about the measures. And while you’re at it, sign the two petitions below to tell urge Governor Brewer to veto Arizona’s bill legalizing discrimination. That’s if the NFL doesn’t coming knocking first — Arizona is set to host the Super Bowl in 2015.