Yesterday was more than another day off from school. In this blog post, Miss Elder talks about why it is important to remember what Martin Luther King Day stands for.
The third Monday of every January is a very special day, indeed. This year, that date falls on January 20th, and while it is a day off from school (and hey, we know that is exciting!), it is also important to recognize just why you have this day off in the first place. For 15 years, Martin Luther King Day was lobbied in legislation until President Ronald Reagan finally passed it into law in 1983, making it a federal holiday. This year, we here at 21CCCS would like for you to learn more about this man and what you can do on this day to celebrate his work towards finding freedom and justice for all.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in a time that seems so vastly different than today. He grew up in a society that was segregated. Could you imagine having to go to a different school based on the color of your skin? Perhaps eat at a restaurant that was in a different section of town because it was the segregated restaurant you were told you could frequent? The Civil Rights Movement was born in recognition that this forced separation of life was not equal, and it led to the actions of many great Civil Rights activists. Among the greatest was Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a leader of this movement, he traveled all around the United States speaking and bringing recognition to his cause. He courageously faced injustice and was the leader of massive protests in Birmingham, Alabama, which was perhaps the most blatantly segregated city in America. He inspired 250,000 people to take a stand and march on Washington, D.C. in 1963 where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He stated that, “Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning…We cannot be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘For Whites Only’…I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
Sadly Dr. King would not make it to see the day that America’s society no longer believed in segregation; a day where limitations on education due to race no longer exist, and where society has embraced each other for who we are as a person, not as a race. His legacy of justice, empowerment, love, and peace still live on each day. You can just look outside your window and see the impact he and other Civil Rights activists had. And that is why, on the third Monday of every January, we celebrate his legacy. When you are off from school on this day, please take a moment to truly remember what this day stands for, and to consider the sacrifices that Dr. King and many others made to change American society to one of acceptance. His legacy lives on in each of us as we strive to continue his vision of the American Dream.