As many of you know, today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As I’ve said before, I oppose MLK Day being a federal holiday for 2 reasons:
- It leaves out other players in the civil rights movement (and focuses the movement to one race): César Chávez, Rosa Parks, etc….
- I think that Reverend King would have opposed a holiday dedicated to him. Dr. King realized that in order to ever achieve equality for blacks, that he would have to have the help of thousands, if not millions of people. I don’t think that King would have found pleasure in the fact that he has become the name behind the civil rights movement – I think that King would’ve wanted that movement to have been represented by Americans as a whole, not one person.
Alright, now that I got that side note out of the way, I wanted to talk a little bit about Dr. King and all he did. We often hear his “I have a dream” speech, and I think that many Americans have pushed King into this category of “a great American orator.” King was arrested. His house was bombed. He was shot and killed. Folks, that’s more than just a great American orator. That’s somebody who, and pardon my bluntness here, pissed a heck of a lot of people off. He helped end racial segregation on public buses. To reduce Rev. King just to the level of “a great orator” is an absolute shame. In fact, it’s more than that – it’s pure ignorance of American history.
And to those of you who object to MLK Day because of race: grow up. I love the South – it’s filled with conservatives and Republicans, but one of the things that bugs me the most is racism. If you don’t like African Americans, that’s fine – that’s your right. But that doesn’t mean you have to go out and spread your hatred around to other people. Quite frankly, I never understood how people could view another race as less than human just because their skin is darker than other people’s. If somebody out there has this view and wants to explain it to me, go ahead – I’m pretty sure I’m always going to disagree with you, but hey, I’m always up for a good debate (I’ve just opened myself up for an invasion by Stormfront). Sorry – that got off topic, but racism really gets me going.
I think Dr. King would be proud of this country for how far it’s gone since the 1960s, but we’re not there yet. Too often, Americans are judging people by “the color of their skin,” not the “content of their character.” Dr. King was a great man, and he accomplished a lot – a lot more than a lot of people will accomplish in their lives. But this doesn’t mean that each and every one of us can’t stand up for what Dr. King believed in. Stand up for your fellow man – no matter what his race, gender, age, appearance. Fight for the rights of everybody. When you see racism, confront it. Standing by and doing nothing is an endorsement of racism. It doesn’t take a march in Washington, D.C. to change this country. All it takes is a change of attitude. Stand up for each other. Defend each other. Help each other. These are the things that Dr. King would’ve liked to see. Dr. King didn’t WANT to march in Washington, D.C. or from Selma to Montgomery, AL, but he realized that he first had to get the attention of the people before attitudes could be changed. Dr. King probably didn’t want to do a lot of the things that he did, but he realized that his actions, along with the actions of those with him, were necessary in order to bring about change. But now we’re in a different era. I don’t think it takes drastic actions to change America’s racist views. I think we’ve come far enough that if people examine the issue of racism close enough, a lot of people will see that it’s wrong. We just have to convince people to do that. And the best way to do this is to lead by example.
While I disagree with the official status of the holiday, I most definitely will celebrate the legacy and accomplishments of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and I hope that you will too.
Tags: African Americans, Alabama, Assassination, César Chávez, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Activist, Death, Holidays, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King Day, Martin Luther King Jr., MLK, Montgomery, Politics, Racism, Rosa Parks, Selma, Washington D.C.