Photo credits: The U.S. House of Representatives
Katie Beatrice Hall (shown) was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, on April 3, 1938.
Hall worked as a teacher in Gary, Indiana, and as a politician in the United States, serving as a member of the House of Representatives from Indiana from 1982 to 1985. On November 2, 1982, Hall was sworn in as the first black woman elected to the United States House of Representatives from Indiana. In the last months of the 97th Congress, Hall represented Indiana’s 1st Congressional District.
She also served in the 98th Congress for the whole two-year term from 1983 to 1985. She is most known for drafting legislation and spearheading efforts on the floor of the United States House of Representatives in 1983 to declare Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday after prior attempts failed. H.R. 3706 was introduced to make the third Monday in January a federal holiday in honor of King.
It was proposed in July 1983 and approved on August 2, 1983, in the House of Representatives. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan agreed to sign the measure into law. Hall did serve in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1974 to 1976 and the Indiana Senate from 1976 to 1982 before being elected to the United States House of Representatives.
She also served as a delegate to the 1978 Democratic Mini-Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, as chairman of the Lake County Democratic Committee from 1978 to 1980, and as chairwoman of the Indiana State Democratic Convention in 1980. In the Democratic primary in May 1984, Hall was defeated in her campaign for reelection to the United States Congress.
By 2,367 votes, Hall was defeated by Peter Visclosky. She also failed two further attempts to reclaim Indiana’s 1st District seat in the US House against Visclosky in 1986 and 1990. Hall was vice-chairman of the Gary Housing Board of Commissioners after leaving Congress. She became the city clerk of Gary, Indiana, in 1985.
On February 20, 2012, she died in Gary, Indiana, at the age of 74.