There was a lot of lobbying done in order to make the holiday be recognized. A year after Dr. King's death in 1969, the paper work and lobbying started and it was not until President Regan decided to sign Dr. King's birthday over as a National Holiday. Some states did not recognize the King Holiday in the beginning. A lot of tension was still in America then about the holiday (and still is) but not as much now.
Please check out this video in celebration of Dr. King's birthday.
I must have been about 11 when this video came out. I still know all the words. Everyone was so happy and elated that Dr. King would be celebrated at a National level. [I wish the song was still available. I have a 45 of the song somewhere in my junk at my parents house.]