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Volume 55, Number 19   January 28, 2008         

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Professor of Political Science Robert C. Smith discussed Ronald Reagan's position on the Martin Luther King holiday in an opinion piece in the January 21 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. While Reagan signed the bill creating a national holiday in honor of King, he also sympathized with then-North Carolina Senator Jessie Helms, who wanted a deeper investigation into King's background and considered him a communist sympathizer.

In 2005 Smith filed a Freedom of Information Act request for presidential records regarding the King holiday. When he received the papers, 26 pages of the records were withheld.
Smith wrote that the missing pages included memorandum crucial to understanding the administration's decision-making on the holiday legislation. "What were the discussions and decision by the White House staff that led the president to change his mind? We do not know and, if the custodians of the Reagan legacy have their way, we may never know, or at least we may have to wait a long time."

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Last modified Jan. 28, 2008 by University Communications.