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Monday, January 16, 2006

The Content of Its Character

I'm off today for Martin Luther King Day. My sister who works in the bank is off, too. My husband, a project manager for a construction firm is not off, and my sons who work in retail are not off. My mom is getting a hip replacement today, so her surgeon is not off, either.

When I go back to school tomorrow, a few of my black students will likely start talking about MLK Day and it will lead to Black History Month and they will start joking/not joking in their way about how Black History Month is in February, the shortest month of the year. And some white students will start in about how there is no White History Month or Puerto Rican History Month, etcetera etcetera etcetera, until I just stop it before I have to set them all on fire.

Or perhaps I will make the point that at least MLK Day still has its dignity. As of this writing, there are no MLK Day Sales in the paper. Macy's has no 20% off coupons "in honor of" MLK Day as they do for Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Martin Luther King, Jr. is still honored by civic programs and commemorative marches in our town, not by people opening their pools or ceasing to wear white shoes. His speeches are made by church and secular leaders to respectful crowds; retail outlets are not decked in cheap patriotic bunting in order to sell unrelated seasonal goods. Sometimes the point made is missed.

2 comments:

  1. Actually, there is a Latino History Month and a Women's History Month. But I agree with you that it is nice that there is a holiday that hasn't turned into another shopping month. But it could be because MLK is still a figure that many still remember being alive. Give it another 50 years, and we'll see if things haven't changed.

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  2. Anonymous11:06 PM

    I concur. It does seem more respectful.

    Still, at the celebration I could not help but feel a bit irked at the oft used phrase "things haven't changed much." I have to disagree. While there is spacious room for improvement, Dr. King did make headway and for people to lazily suggest that things are still as bad as they were just steals his accomplishments.

    I would like to see some recognition, detailed and precise, about the things he did accomplish at next year's celebration. Perhaps if people review again, with a critical mind for what worked and what didn't, we could employ better and different strategies today.

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