IT’S SAD TO SAY THAT THE MLK DAY HAS GONE AND PAST, WITH NOTHING MORE THAN AN EXTRA DAY OFF.
But to me, and to many others in my town. It’s not over.
Over the weekend I was asked to cover a story about the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event for my student newspaper the Horizon. Yes, of course, I respect and appreciate the work of the reverend, but I had never engaged in any activity that truly celebrated his work until now.
It has always seemed to me that MLK Day is celebrated just before Black History Month for a convenient reason. Now I just find it a coincidence. Or maybe a conspiracy…
True, he was a hero amongst African-Americans and a figurehead for all minorities. But more importantly, he was a hero amongst all Americans, a figurehead for equality and civil rights. His work not for any race to claim.
I realized this when I found myself downtown in a mid January blizzard, with a couple hundred other Americans in celebration of the reverend and his work. But it was not just a celebration. There was a purpose. The people in the streets were not the same townsfolk that meet for the local Ho-Down. They were demonstrators. They carried signs, they sang, they marched, and they were THERE.
They were not demonstrating racial equality (except for a couple with pickets that said so). They were demonstrating the same thing the people on Wall Street demonstrate today. Financial equality.
I admit, when I showed up to cover the event, my expectations were pretty typical: A sombre black man in a business suit at a podium, reciting, quoting, or otherwise repeating the words of the reverend. People snoring. That sort of thing. But what could you expect? The reverend is celebrated as a leader of racial equality.
He was assassinated before he was able to take part in his Poor Man’s March. The Poor Man’s March was aimed at eliminating poverty in the U.S. and creating financial equality.
And here we are today. In a battle between the extremely wealthy and the people who need showers. Where are our leaders? Our figureheads? What happened to inspiration? Camaraderie?
The reverend’s work and passion could not mean more to Americans now. Not just in eliminating poverty, but in creating peace, brotherhood and justice. One of his most basic principles that must be kept in the back of our minds today as we go about our daily lives:
Similarly, Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence:
“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e., securing inherent and inalienable rights, with powers derived from the consent of the governed], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Or simply, don’t let the Man give you the Pickle.
By no means am I pushing Ron Paul politics on anyone – but I find it disturbing that the man was booed off stage at the GOP debate for announcing the use of the “Golden Rule.” In what case are the American people more deserving than another nation’s people? Really. What makes us better?
These are basic moral principles that are being rejected and neglected. For what?
But, just as Independence Day comes with a bang and sizzles into the horizon, MLK Day passes us with less recognition. It’s not a day for African-American people, and it’s not even a day about celebrating/promoting civil rights. It’s a day about doing something.
(For the record, there is no Ho-Down where I am from. At least that I am aware of.)