HONORING MLK: Some do, some don’t, all have opinions

By: Various
Jan 19, 2016
I have a dream etched in granite
Time of service

The vice president of Young Democrats of America at Claflin University says the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday is a reminder of the need for service.
Senior Rokeeah Robertson said she enjoys having MLK Day away from school but the holiday is more than time off. She thinks everyone should take advantage of the holiday and encourage one another to give back to the community.
“MLK Day is a national holiday to pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” she said. “It’s a day to serve your community.”
“Because of this, I feel like people who don’t have time the other 364/365 days depending on if it’s a leap year or not, it’s an opportunity for them to serve their community with their day off,” she said.
Robertson said everyone should have MLK Day off as a national holiday, not just those with educational institutions and government agencies.
“It’s not just a day off as previously stated,  it’s a day to serve your community,” Robertson said. “Whether they like Martin Luther King or not, one should learn to make the best of their time off and give back to their community.”
Robertson’s favorite MLK quote is, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Robertson is a politics and justice major at Claflin University and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
King would be disappointed

 Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just a day away from school and work, and isn't important to today’s young generation, a Claflin student says.
Sophomore Aaron Nelson believes MLK Day is losing its importance in today’s generation because people don’t know enough about Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate his birthday.
"Martin Luther King Jr. would be disappointed in the generation today if he were still alive," Nelson said.
“A lot of us don't care about Martin Luther King Jr. due to our progression for admiring ignorance," Nelson said. "I think we have a mindset to where we only care about ourselves instead of the betterment of our community.”
Nelson said this generation doesn't try to learn more about King and that's why the holiday will just be a day of rest.
"The more knowledge of Rev. King we can gain can be used to help each other, but we ignore how great of a day it is just to relax and stay complacent.”
Not as relevant as it should be
Senior criminal justice major Doward Hunter is passionate about the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and disappointed in the way it is observed.
“I do not think it is as relevant as it should be. I do not think we as African-Americans are being taught the significance of his legacy and what he stood,” Hunter said.
It took 15 years to create the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.   
“Dr. King led the way for African-Americans, also for Americans as a whole. I also believe that today is relevant because Dr. King put his life on the line so that African-Americans could have equal rights,” Hunter said.
“We as Americans should want to acknowledge such a courageous individual. This day is important to me because I understand the relevancy of my history and what he endured so that I could have a better future,” Hunter said.
No to celebration of assassination
Keem Mack does not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Yeah, I use to like it when I was a kid … but when I got older, I started to understand the true meaning behind it,” Mack said.
Keem also said the government and the racists assassinated King for speaking the truth and trying to create unity.
“They created a holiday about him, and it’s kind of like a slap to the face. Like they keep reminding us that they won, nothing has changed and I am not going to celebrate it,” Mack said.
He said King was assassinated for trying to change the views of the people.
Keem respects the people who work for change and unity.
But said why make a holiday about only one black man who was assassinated and not others like Malcolm X or Fred Hampton.
Mack keeps to himself and does not follow up on politics. He says it’s a trap that the government provides and people are too blind to see what is going on.
Moreover, Mack is an African-American male who is an African-American advocate. He respects the African-American culture and daily lifestyle.
Also he keeps up with black history by reading a lot of African-American books and seeks the true meaning behind the African-American culture.
He said the system kills off people who are different, people who try to make a change, people who have a unique point of view.
He also does not care for or celebrate all of the other holidays, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.
He feels like they are another way for people to be programmed to celebrate something the world created and not what the holidays truly mean.
He said if he could travel in the past, he would be with the Black Panthers and he would fight to make things just.

Has anything changed?
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday that marks the birthday of the slain civil rights leader.
It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birth, Jan. 15. King was the key spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law causing a landmark victory against racial bias.
One of Claflin’s students shared her opinions and views about MLK Day, but she wanted to remain anonymous. She is a sophomore majoring in Spanish as well as an honors student.
·         Question: What do you think about MLK day?

·         Answer: “I think that is very important. It reminds people of a critical time in our country’s history that looks almost no different than today.”

·         Question: Do you think it’s importance has increased or decreased?

·         “The importance of MLK and his message has not decreased; however our society seems to not care anymore. While schools and communities will mention this day, is there any reflection? Review of history? Or discussion of his speeches?

·         Last thoughts?

“MLK Day is more than a day off from work. It represents the fight for freedom from someone who chose not to be silent. I think that it is important, especially today, to reflect on his words and compare them to our society today. Has anything changed? Who knows — maybe someone from our generation will get their day.

A time to play, a time to learn
When Claflin University’s men’s basketball team traveled for its game last weekend, the players made a special trip in Tennessee to gain a stronger appreciation for black history.
From slavery to the civil rights march, it is important to know the history of African-Americans and the fight for equality. Jan. 18 serves as a substantial date in history as the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
With Black History Month approaching, the players had the opportunity to further educate themselves by visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
David Thompson, a freshman, spoke of his experience and why King Day should be celebrated.
“It was just a great history lesson to be honest. They gave great reminders on how life was for blacks before slavery, and then the terrible fate they had when slavery took place,” Thompson said.
“They led up to all the history until Martin Luther King Jr.’s era and that made a huge impact. After viewing all of his accomplishments and what he has done for the future, I believe it has brought different races closer.”

Into the future
One Claflin junior hopes Martin Luther King Jr. Day expands its scope.
Dionna Green, an education major, said she celebrates the holiday because it represents a very historic period in the world – and not just for black people but for everyone.
“He wanted to serve by helping others by changing the civil rights laws, which is why it is important to do service on that day,” she said.
She believes people still honor the day. She cites Greeks as well as other students doing public service, saying that historically black colleges and universities celebrate MLK Day more than other institutions.
MLK day this year fell on Jan. 18.
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