Sunday, January 16, 2011

Celebrating the King Holiday

Tomorrow we celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday. For some Americans this holiday holds great significance. For others it doesn't seem to be of relevance. Though it may be hard to believe, the King holiday was actually first signed into law by President Reagan in 1983 and was first celebrated on a national scale over 20 years ago -- in 1986.

When this holiday was first proposed, there was much resistance to it. Some felt that Dr. King should not be recognized when other "more deserving" individuals did not have their own holiday. Only two others had been recognized with their own holiday, George Washington, and another individual that was not even an American, Christopher Columbus. Others were concerned that we already had enough holidays and didn't need another. And, sadly, some were against it simply because they did not believe that any African American should be worthy of such an honor. But even if you're a racist, being against the holiday doesn't make sense. Look at what comedian Chris Rock has to say about it:
"Now if you don't like black people, that's one thing, but what I can't understand is why people ...wouldn't want a day off work. It's not like you have to do something black on that day. You don't have to ready Ebony magazine, you don't have to watch Soul Train, all you have to do is NOT WORK."
The reason why I support the holiday is because it does not just honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Although I believe his accomplishments are worthy of recognition. I challenge you to think of another American that was a non-elected official (i.e. a private citizen) that had a greater impact on the 20th century and beyond. I'm supportive of the holiday because it acknowledges all those in our country's history that have been oppressed, mistreated, and disenfranchised. It remembers King's values of courage, sacrifice, humility, love, compassion and service.

Dr. King was imperfect and was a flawed man (just like me). He had his shortcomings, but he did lead a significant movement of change in a pivotal time in American history. The King holiday should just not be celebrated by African Americans or those that feel they are outside the mainstream. This holiday should be celebrated by all Americans so that we can somberly remember our past and hopefully look towards the future.

I hope you're able to do something this weekend in honor of the King holiday. Go to a parade. Watch a civil rights documentary on PBS. Serve at a homeless shelter. Buy dinner for a single mom. Spend some time with a child. Share the gospel with someone that looks different than you. Do something that might help in displaying God's love to those that need it most.