Paul R. Lehman, MLK”s Day: Whose day is it Anyway?

January 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Posted in Race in America | 1 Comment
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        Many Americans woke up this morning and gave no particular significance to the fact that today is dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he represents to America and the world. On the other hand, some people woke up giving thanks for all the blessings and privileges they enjoy because of the efforts of MLK. In addition, some people woke up feeling anger that the day was set aside for a specific observance. Why such a mixture of attitudes and feelings for the day? We can discern at least three groups of people with different reactions to the observance of MLK Day: one group of people have no feelings or attitude regarding the day and what it represents to the nation; another group feel anger and disgust at the fact that the day was established in the first place; another group feel joy and gratitude for the opportunity to celebrate the day.

                People who place little or no significance to MLK Day are generally people who feel that the Civil Rights Movement had no effect on them or their society. The day is simply another day to do whatever is permitted—work or play. The day is generally view as a day for African Americans and other minorities to celebrate whatever they want to celebrate. Sure they have marches, public program with guest speakers; they even have some religious services. Those things are reserved for them because King was part of them. Being American, for them, does not sharing in the historical significance of the changes brought about by the Civil Rights Movement. To them change does not mean progress, it just means change.

                People who feel compelled to protest MLK Day do so with the attitude that something has been taken away from them—privilege. Why would this nation want to call attention to someone who disrupted the wonderful life Americans were enjoying? They often believe that the people who celebrate this day bring only shame and dishonor to our society. King and his supporters, they believe, were nothing but trouble makers and do not deserve to be remembered in any way. Minorities, some believe, should be kept in their inferior place. The rights, liberties, and privileges enjoyed by these people should belong to only these people. For many of them, laws, religion and science can have no influence on how they feel about King and Civil Rights.

                To another group of Americans, MKL Day is a day of celebration, reflection, and dedication. The celebration is for the distance traveled by society from the days of slavery to today. To appreciate the blood, sweat, tears, and death contributed by those in the fight for freedom, liberty, and justice for all citizens. The reflection is for the efforts of King and all the Civil Rights supporters who came to Washington D.C. to join in the protest and send America the message that it had still not lived up to its ideal and creed. The protesters told America that she was still accountable of her actions and treatment of her less-fortunate citizens, and the time had come for action in that regard. The job of extending first-class citizenship to all Americans was not complete. The Americans who use this day as a form of dedication view it as an opportunity to redirect efforts in bringing about the rights, liberties, and privileges to all Americans.

                So whose day is MLK’s Day anyway? American females are indebted to King and The Civil Rights Movement for the positive changes brought about in whatever walk of American life they participates. American men owe much to the Movement as well because of the many opportunities presented them through the efforts of King and Civil Rights activists. In essence, all Americans have been influenced in a positive way by Martin Luther King and the supporters of American Civil Rights. Civil Rights belong to all Americans although all Americans do not fully enjoy them. MLK’s Day provides an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate, reflect, and rededicate ourselves to the ideals of American Democracy and the privileges of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for us all.


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  1. I enjoyed reading this one, as I do with them all.

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