On October 20th, 1983 the US Senate voted to make Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. Although the symbolism of this vote is important, I’m not sure that Dr. King would appreciate what the holiday means to America’s children.
Each MLK day, I ponder are we really honoring Dr. King and his powerful messages by closing school for the day? I suspect many children (especially those children from working class families) are spending the day home alone, playing video games and watching TV. It’s not their fault that they’re home alone and unable to participate in learning about the value of Dr. King’s dream. But how can we use this day to teach the importance of equal rights, voter enfranchisement, the importance of education and the rights and responsibilities of being a US citizen when so many of our children are at home alone?
Why can’t we use Dr. King’s birthday as a day (in school) to celebrate and honor the very things that Dr. King wanted all children to have; good schools, quality educations, and equal opportunity for ALL children to succeed?
For this grave disservice, I blame the US Senate. Clearly they did not see the huge disparity they were creating in making a US Holiday that only some Americans are able to celebrate. For working class parents who still have to work and their children who are at home alone, MLK day is a “holiday” that perpetuates the very disparities that Dr. King was trying to eliminate.
Image: Dick DeMarsico