This article examines a sample of 91 commemorative adverts published in Black consumer magazines Black Enterprise and Ebony between 1981 and 1991 to explore how corporate advertisers responded to the creation of a federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in November 1983, and first officially celebrated in January 1986, the King holiday provided advertisers with an opportunity to honor King and celebrate his historical significance; something which fed into broader efforts by North American corporations to showcase their understanding and appreciation of Black history and, by extension, the Black consumer market. However, the multivalent tone of these commemorative features can be situated within ongoing and hotly contested debates over the meaning of King's activism and legacy, revealing the complex relationship between corporate social responsibility, Black history, commemorative advertising, and political messaging.

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