Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day and its significance.


MLK and Lyndon Johnson. Image sourced by Picryl licensed by creative commons.

MLK speaking on healthcare while leaning on a podium. Image sourced by Flickr and licensed by creative commons.

Best known for his work during the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy lives on. His involvement in progressivism has allowed him to be one of three individuals with their own national holiday. Following King’s assassination, people came together and petitioned for a national holiday including Stevie Wonder who brought national spotlight to the petition in 1980. Established by President Reagan in 1983, the national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. day occurs on the third Monday of January every year. 

“Martin Luther King Jr. in himself was a huge celebration for civil rights, especially for any people of color. I think it is amazing how we are able to celebrate someone who did such a great thing,” senior Trevor Cower noted. 

The holiday may not be celebrated like Memorial Day with cookouts and swimming, but people still celebrate it. One way to celebrate this holiday is to gain more knowledge on what’s happened to black Americans. Cower shared why he chose to educate himself. 

“I feel like having that knowledge [of their culture and important figures] overall can be a celebration,” Cower reflected.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on the week of King’s birthday.

“It helps celebrate his life, over having it on the day he was assassinated the conversation would be more about his death, over his work,” Colorado Springs monastery school teacher Breanna Shannon stated. 

Having the holiday revolve around King’s birthday allows for more of his work to be recognized.

“I remember back in elementary school learning about the importance of Martin Luther King that week but really that’s all the representation I have ever gotten,” Cower commented. 

Having Martin Luther King Jr. Day opens a door for more than a break from work and school.

“Typically we think of important days when we get a break but I feel like historical holidays, we shouldn’t really get off. We should have a day to learn about the contents of that holiday,” Cower remarked. 

Teachers remark on the same notion that the holiday needs further discussion. 

“I think the importance of MLK day should be discussed more to students so they can better understand why they have the day off,” Shannon elaborated. 

More than just getting a break from work and school it also allows for King’s memory to be exemplified. 

“Having the day off keeps the memory of what happened alive. It reminds people of our history and how far we have come since then,” Air Academy High School graduate, Peter Dunbar, remarked. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Image sourced by Wikimedia  and licensed by creative commons.

Though for many, Martin Luther King Jr. Day may be a day for rest for others it holds more significance. 

“MLK day is a part of my history. As a person of mixed race, as I am part African American, I think that it is important to remember the great lengths that MLK went to in order to aid Africans and push the Civil rights movement,” Dunbar explained. 

Martin Luther King day represents King’s work as an activist and his ongoing work even today.  

“When it [Martin Luther King Jr. Day] rolls around on the calendar I tend to enjoy my day and appreciate the racial climate I live in today,” Dunbar commented. 

King’s ongoing efforts against racial prejudice continue to be seen today. 

“My whole life I try my best to celebrate the whole idea of moving past discrimination,” Cower iterated.

On Monday, January 16th, 2023, Martin Luther King Jr. day will occur for its 37th anniversary. King’s ongoing legacy continues to impact communities in the United States through this national holiday and day off from school.