American Culture: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is the 3rd Monday in January and every kid in America knows what that means. No school! Today is the federal holiday Martin Luther King Jr day. Martin Luther King Jr held a key role in the Civil Right Movement in the 1950’s and 60’s. Every kid in school learns that he was a Baptist minister in the South and that he made a speech about dreams.  But I don’t think people really appreciate the fact that he was arrested over 30 times despite his message of non-violence and was eventually assassinated. The many boycotts he led and the number of people he inspired are a testament to the bravery of this man, who spoke out for his belief in racial equality when most of the nation was against him.

There aren’t too many special celebrations that go on today in America, most people still work and most students use the time to catch up on sleep or homework. But in school I always remember watching MLK’s speech “I Have A Dream” and having to write about my own dreams. I also remember learning about the bus boycott where all the African Americans sat in the front and the diner sit-ins where they would sit peacefully on the “White’s Only” side. I remember thinking that I probably couldn’t do half of what these people did for rights that most Americans now take for granted. I remember admiring them.

So today is a day for dreaming. For bravely stepping up and deciding what you can do to improve your life and the lives of those around you. Basically, I see today as that mid-January reinforcement of the resolutions we all made on the 1st. So go and volunteer in your community, join that gym, and do your homework. Because every small step we take to better ourselves and the world is a step in the right direction.

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