WHY DO WE HAVE A HOLIDAY FOR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.?
Now that the holiday season is over, many of us are focused on getting back into the swing of things at school and making good on our New Year's resolutions. Even though each winter is filled with holidays, one stands out from the rest. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which falls on Monday, January 15th this year, is a very important holiday in the history of the U.S.
In the 1950s, things were very different than they are today. Nearly a century had passed since the Emancipation Proclamation, but many African American citizens were still oppressed. Many states still had laws that banned them from attending the same schools, using the same restrooms, and frequenting the same establishments as their caucasian counterparts. African Americans were disenfranchised and treated violently for no reason other than the color of their skin. Not all lawmakers believed this was constitutional, and in 1954 the “separate but equal” doctrine that allowed states to continue these discriminatory practices was struck down. This sparked the civil rights movement, which was led by a number of African American leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates a legacy of hope and the healing his leadership brought to America during a time of desperate need. Dr. King held fast to strong Christian values that allowed him to lead the civil rights movement peacefully. He promoted courageous acts, honesty, compassion, unconditional love, equality, tolerance, humility, and acts of service. These are the attributes we are celebrating and the reasons we have a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.
Another reason we have a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. is to commemorate the sacrifices he made to make the dream of a colorblind society a reality. Dr. King believed that to invoke change one must not only talk but take action. His actions placed him in many situations where he faced personal threats, imprisonment, and physical harm. He paid the ultimate price when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. His words of inspiration and his example opened the door for historic reforms regarding the treatment of people in our nation.
We didn't start observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day right after his death. The idea was not popular at first, and it took about 15 years for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to become an official holiday. The process began about four years after Dr. King's assassination, when a Democratic congressman from Michigan decided to introduce a bill to make it a commemorative holiday. To convince Congress to pass the legislation, it took a petition with 6 million names, additional legislators getting on board, a public outcry in 1982, and the 1983 civil rights marches in Washington. Initially, the celebration date was scheduled for Dr. King's birthday on January 15th, but it was moved to the third Monday in January to remove opposition to passing the bill into law. The new holiday was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
At Enlightium Academy, we value each student individually, regardless of race, ability, or social status. We believe that all students deserve access to a high quality education, and have their own unique needs when it comes to learning. We specialize in providing a flexible Christian education to students of all types, all within the comfort of their own homes. Our biblical worldview is infused into every lesson of our award-winning and accredited online homeschool curriculum. Parents and students alike love Enlightium Academy’s online Christian homeschool.