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Standing Ovation For Wilma Webb, Credited With Starting MLK Jr. Day In Colorado

DENVER (CBS4)- State lawmakers honored the woman credited with starting Martin Luther King Day in Colorado. On Friday, Democrats and Republicans at the state Capitol gave former State Rep. Wilma Webb a standing ovation in the House chamber.

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Wilma Webb (credit: CBS)

As she stood before the lawmakers, Rep. Lesley Herod said, "Wilma, we owe this day to you."

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(credit: Wilma Webb)

Webb says today's Legislature, which is the most diverse in state history, is much different than the one she served in.

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(credit: Wilma Webb)

"The unity that was expressed today in this Legislature was so different than the atmosphere in which I served," said Webb.

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(credit: Wilma Webb)

Instead of unity, Webb says she encountered hostility in the 1980s as she introduced bill after bill to establish the MLK Jr. holiday.

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Wilma Webb (credit: CBS)

"Four different times. Four different efforts. Four different bills," said Webb.

The civil rights leader Martin Luther KI
(credit: Getty Images)

She recalled the cold reception of colleagues, "None of them really said anything opposing to it. They just voted 'No.'"

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CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd interviews Wilma Webb (credit: CBS)

Webb also recalled the warmth of supporters, "They brought three bus loads full of people from Colorado Springs. I myself personally lobbied every member of the Senate, every member of the House. In the last, fourth year, I was able to get it adopted."

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(credit: Wilma Webb)

Webb admits there were times she considered giving up, "Because it was so difficult."

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(credit: Wilma Webb)

But she persevered, "Because this Legislature, this country needs to know about Dr. Martin Luther King and what a great person he was."

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(credit: CBS)

Lawmakers gave Webb a certificate recognizing her service and courage, "For this to be presented today in this legislature and to hear all the comments... it means all of what that struggle was."

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(credit: CBS)

Webb was the first African American appointed to the powerful Joint Budget Committee at the state Capitol. She lost her seat on that committee as a result of her fight for the MLK Jr. holiday.

Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
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