2007/01/15

For MLK - Emancipation Day Redux

MLK Day is one of those holidays that should really inspire one to write something non-topical and profound. But frankly, I've never been very comfortable with a holiday that honors one man. Do we honor President Lincoln, a man who--to the extent that any President does--deserves his own day?

The United States isn't about great men and women. It's about great ideas, great struggles, and great actions. So, with that in mind, I'm going to punt and point you at a post I did last August which is a much more fitting sentiment for MLK Day.

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Emancipation Day

Though I revere Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I've always been a little uncomfortable with having a national holiday in his honor. Why? Well it has nothing to do with his stature, his vision, his oratory, or his commitment to civil rights. No...it just seems to me that even Dr. King would be uncomfortable with a day dedicated to his memory. Somehow it seems too small--seems not to have the right focus.

Read the rest...

8 Comments:

That is also why I oppose a holiday for 9/11. Do we then do the same for Pearl Harbor, D Day, Gettysburg,...?
..it's the struggle that should be memorialized.

I think that Frogette summed up nicely your whole and excellent post.

Emancipation Day. Diversity Day. Either way and as long as it's not in September. There're already far too many people who've no clue what Labor Day does really commemorate.
Me4Prez, agreed. This nation is about more than people and the tragic events. Do we memorialize Antietam, for example?

Michael...thanks. It's sad isn't it? Labor Day, IMHO, is very important. Labor and laborors--the dream that hard work can raise you up--is still one of our enduring ideas. Labor Day's importance seems to fade with the fact that the American Dream is dying.
It's interesting down here. MLK day is [grudgingly] recognized, while unofficial "days" for confederate war "hero's" draws thousands, attending in pickup trucks complete with the Confederate flag, a gun rack, and a truck horn playing Dixie. Liberally!

I think MLK day is a knee jerk reaction to appease, rather than honor. "See how much we care?" The magnetic ribbon honor.

Had MLK been white, and done the same deeds, would he be revered as much? I point to JFK as exhibit A. "Black History MONTH?" If that designation were truly to honor, we would then also have a white history month, Mexican history......hell, we'd need more months just to be politically correct.
Actually, we used to celebrate Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday. However, because both holidays fell in the same month (I believe Washington's birthday was Feb 22 and Lincoln was Feb 12), they combined them into President's Day, which I really resent because I don't mind celebrating either or both of those two men's birthday's, but I don't think we should have a day to celebrate presidents in a general way because we are an anti-royal country and were founded by people who did not believe in royalty. To celebrate presidents as a group is to raise then above the rest of us. I don't mind raising individuals who did great things.

As for King, I think his birthday ought to be celebrated. Here was a man who new that people wanted to murder him and that every time he stepped into a public place or public view, he was a target for a gun. This was at a time when murdering black men and women was not uncommon in the south. This was at a time when four young, white people were murdered for trying to register black people to vote. King did not let that deter him. He stood up for what he believed in knowing it would and could get him killed. He stood for equal rights for all people, not just black people, and he also stood for the poor in a way that few people have the courage to do now. Very few. I think King's day is appropriate and deserved and I am glad of it.
For some reason, they don't seem to hot on celebrating it down here in Alabama either, although I fear for other reasons than those you state. I couldn't believe my ears the other day as some other soldiers and I were waiting for a second cab (we'd called a van but it wasn't available, so they sent a second car to accommodate all of us)when the cab driver that showed up first starts telling racist jokes just to pass the time. Ugh, I can't wait to get back to New York.
The American dream is not dying - it's just turned into a terrible nightmare, one it will hopefully awake from in the next couple of months BEFORE George does the unthinkable.

Cheers!
I am more of a Malcolm X fan though. I would be more in favor of a larger holiday to remember all the people who played a part in the Civil Rights era. I think Rosa Parks was probably more important than both Malcolm and Martin in the long run.

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