I hope all of you had a beautiful Martin Luther King Day, centered around service and helping the community. No? I’ll try again. I hope everyone had a restful day off from school last Monday. Sadly, that is the title that this monumental holiday has been given: a “day off”. There was no fanfare, no nation-wide TV celebration, and no more than a barely two-minute mention of the holiday at my school. Over the years, MLK day has been consistently reduced to the status of a mere snow day. Even “Nickelodeon”, the huge kids tv network, called it “your day off from school”. Have we come this far, only to let the struggle and triumph of a national and global hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., become a side note on our busy agendas?
I beg of you, please do not let the legacy of Dr. King shrivel before our own eyes, due to the negligence of this historic holiday. For those of you that have seen “Selma” (which I highly recommend; such a powerful movie), you understand that Dr. King accomplished much more than reciting his “I Have a Dream” speech, (of which I’m sure we all know the first few lines, but can we as a generation fully absorb them?). He organized marches, staged peaceful protests, and led the civil rights movement in a tactical, yet nonviolent manner, one of the feats that he is often most honored for. Dr. King was a man who believed so strongly in the principle of equality and integration for all people, regardless of race, religion, or creed, that he was willing to put his life on the line, which he did time and time again. Yet, despite the honorable man he was and the accomplished yet difficult life he endured, his holiday, the one day a year that is entirely dedicated to honoring his legacy, is year be year receding in significance.
“So, how should I honor Dr. King?” you may be asking yourself. Well, you certainly do not have to stage a protest or organize a march (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Simply take a minute to recognize that you are standing on the bones and legacies of legends, the struggles of heroes before you that fought battles that you no longer have to fight. This is how you can honor Dr. King’s life. Take a day, such as MLK day, or take longer than a day even, to be thankful and to be inspired to continue the dream, his dream. If we all decided to continue in the footprints that Dr. King and millions of others have made, footprints left in the dirt from marches and smudged on the streets from protests, we would be many steps closer to finally reaching his dream. Rest in peace Dr. King.