MLK Day is THE most important national holiday.

2011/01/17

The greatest American...?

This week, a few North Georgian school systems intended to make up one of last week’s snow days by holding classes on the national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, sparking controversy. It’s emblematic of a cavalier, even resentful attitude toward this man who, in some minds, doesn’t rate the treatment.

They don’t understand that MLK Day is the most important national observance we have. Period.

It’s more important than Veterans’ Day.

It’s more important than Memorial Day.

It’s more important than even Independence Day.

No, I’m not backing off from this. I can defend it completely on any grounds you choose to argue from.

I can certainly hear the sputtering, outraged arguments against my statement, most of which boil down to this:

“Why, without the efforts of our veterans or the founding fathers, we wouldn’t have a NATION, much less a MLK Day!”

To that argument, I say a wholehearted “Amen.” Much blood was shed to establish this, the greatest country in the world, and to maintain its freedom.

But I add this cogent fact: Despite all that sacrifice and the great ideals of the founders that set America into motion, it was not until Dr. King that Americans truly became free and the ideals of this nation were actually begun to be realized.

To wit: America did not actually become the home of the free until sometime after the Bicentennial (1976). That’s about the time when not only were the last vestiges of Jim Crow finally swept away from American law, but people were finally allowed by society at large to interact with each other as equals…if they so chose.

More importantly, the first generation to have no memory of segregation were entering our formative years. And we indeed grew up to realize at least a large portion of Dr. King’s dream.

Most importantly, and the reason why I hold up MLK Day above all other patriotic holidays, is that it’s through his inspirational leadership that this change was effected without violence. I don’t think people realize how many lives were saved by his efforts.

You see, my parents’ generation was going to be the last generation to grow up under Jim Crow laws. Make no mistake: by the 1960s, even the most peace-loving of young black Americans were ready to die for their freedom. And I have to believe that our will and resolve in the resultant race war would’ve been far greater than that of the white majority.

Far greater. Blood would have run in the streets, and not nearly all of it ours.

I also have to believe that a protracted civil war against its own (second-class) citizens would have been absolutely disastrous for America and the world at large with the Cold War still in full swing. America would have lost that war and the entire world might be under Communist rule now and there simply wouldn’t be a free nation strong enough to protect its freedom.

So. The next time you think this is just a “black” holiday honoring one of “our” heroes, think again.

MLK saved America. Not only that, but he called her into her true greatness.

And I have to think that the founders are well pleased.

(Oh, and those N. GA schools? They closed on MLK Day anyway due to the persistent ice. I think God knows what He’s doing, too.)

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2 Responses to “MLK Day is THE most important national holiday.”

  1. Asha Says:

    Many people don’t realize that Rosa Parks, when she said she was tired that day she refused to succumb to the social pressures of forced subjugation she meant fed up.

    Around the time that Martin Luther was organizing protests in the south, Malcolm X was also touting his “by any means necessary” philosophy in the north.

    This article is beautifully written, Khari. I agree, that without MLK America would not be what it is today, but the way it is addressed and taught in schools is designed to polarize the nation. It happens early and it is disgusting.

    • kharisampson Says:

      Thanks for commenting, Asha! But please elaborate on this statement:

      “the way it is addressed and taught in schools is designed to polarize the nation.”

      What do you mean by that?


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