MLK Day is more than a holiday

This year’s observance of Martin Luther King Day marks the 37th anniversary of the federal holiday, but the meaning behind the day off for government officials, federal employees and millions of students across the country is seemingly lost in the shuffle. 

The late Civil Rights activist and leader was one of many who sparked the idea of social justice for marginalized and misrepresented groups in the United States. More importantly, MLK was notorious for his decision to lead peaceful marches and encouraged nonviolent resistance from protestors.

For just under 13 years prior to his assassination, MLK’s historical rhetoric incited social reform for Black people and other minority groups alike to bring peace, equity and equality for all Americans – including the famous “I Have a Dream” speech given in 1963.

When it comes to MLK Day, it’s more than just a day off for the institutions that recognize it. The purpose of the holiday is to remember that social issues continue to exist in this country. The deeply-rooted discrimination in systems like policing, schools and the government that marginalizes people must be called upon and reformed in order to reach social equality.

It’s important to remember MLK Day as a day of reflection of where society’s progression level is at. A more recent time of reflection was in 2020 during the Black Lives Matter movement. Although there were moments of destruction, the progressive moments of peaceful protests, ones that MLK would have approved of, recognize that there is still a lot of social unrest in the country.

Engaging in community activism such as providing resources for local elementary schools, volunteering for groups that help to combat social disparities and injustices, attending educational seminars or even raising awareness of the true meaning behind MLK Day through conversations are all progressive ways to celebrate the holiday. 

Reflecting on the past is important, especially today with the current social unrest. It’s necessary to continue to address social disparities and how this still impacts us today as a country that works towards a time of unity.

The road to having a fair and equal society is a long one and it’s important to use holidays like MLK Day to reaffirm our commitment to this cause. Addressing social disparities is something that must continue to be done to create justice and equality for all. 

Just a day before his assassination on April 4, 1968, MLK’s final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” referred to his own death. MLK said the necessary efforts conceived by him and those alike must be carried on until their call of unity and justice is met – whether or not he is physically a part of it or not. Since his assassination 55 years ago, MLK’s legacy and impact is necessary to reflect on in order to recognize that injustices of any form cannot be left unchallenged.