Like many national holidays, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marks the closing of federal offices, schools, and banks across the United States.
As we take a day “Off” on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I would suggest we take a day “On.” A day “On” which we celebrate and reflect on how far we have come as a nation and how far we have to go.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which became a nationally recognized holiday in 1983, commemorates his life and his fight for racial equality and freedom for all people.
Dr. King fought for the principles found in the American constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Martin Luther King believed that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As a prominent leader in the civil rights movement, he led nonviolent protest against racial injustice that was occurring in America. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent leadership in the midst of struggle and tragedy for the black race in the U.S.
As a nation we have come a long way from “white only” fountains, lynching of blacks, burning of homes and churches. Yes, blacks in America are not being sent to the back of the bus, nor are they met with fire hoses or ravenous dogs.
Yes, we have come a long way. But we cannot forget how long the journey to equality has taken. While we are are closer to living Martin Luther King’s dream; many are still on this journey to embrace the values that he helped instill in this nation. This day symbolizes an ugly truth in American history, but the glowing light that shines from it’s progress.
As we take a day off on Martin Luther King Day, let us rededicate ourselves to his mission of human rights. Let us help eradicate racism in this country. Let us reach out our hands in brotherhood and speak kind words to each other. Let us fight for our beliefs without belittling others. Let us go into our communities and lift a hand, even if the hand is a different color than we are. Let us make America, the welcoming place for people of all cultures, backgrounds, religious and political beliefs.
“Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. ” said Martin Luther King in his last sermon, prior to his assassination in 1968.
As we take a day off from work and school, let us use this day to celebrate a man who dedicated his life for the rights of everyone. As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us celebrate freedom, equality, and a turning point in both American and world history.