Bigger Than a Day Off
Last Monday, January 15, the day set aside as a national holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., the overwhelming majority of the nation's schools had the day off.
Not mine. And I am cool with that.
For yours truly, getting a chance to sleep in, binge-watch Stranger Things (admittedly a killer show), or chill at the mall with your friends does nothing to celebrate the life and legacy of an inspirational leader. Fifty years have separated us from the earthy manifestation of Dr. King, and in that time we as a nation, try as we might, have failed in many ways to live up to his dream.
King's legacy, like the millions who came together during his life to demonstrate for the most basic human rights, is so much bigger than a day off. We owe it to those who risked their lives for equality. We owe it to to those who gave their lives for the same, to gather as families, as friends, and as communities to finish that work.
At my school we gathered in the morning to do our share. We focused specifically on the 1965 voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama and continued through the day reflecting on civic responsibility and social awareness and activism. There was no political grandstanding, and no ideological jousting...just respectful discourse. The students finished out the program by writing their representatives in Washington D.C. (actual letters!) to let them know what issues most concerned them...which is what I think made the day.