Why I Don’t Like MLK Day
Today is Martin Luther King Day, and I am underwhelmed like I am every other year we mark this day. It’s not that I don’t think Martin Luther King is important and that what he did meant a lot to a lot of people, but there is something wanting.
One of the problems I have with Martin Luther King day is it is a celebration of just one man. The only other holiday we have that does that is Columbus Day, and already that is on its way out, as it should be. In many places, it is being replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day, which to me is a much better thing to be celebrating. Why do we want to celebrate a man who oversaw the mass murder of the native peoples of the Caribbean, and a man who never actually set foot on what is now the United States? It’s dumb. And insulting.
Martin Luther King did not act alone. If Thurgood Marshall had not successfully argued Brown vs the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, segregation would still have been entirely legal as ruled in Plessy vs Ferguson. And if Rosa Parks had not exercised her rights and stood her ground on that bus on December 1, 1955, there probably would not have been a Montgomery Bus Boycott. It was in leading this boycott that Dr. King first rose to national prominence, and in so doing was standing on the shoulders of Thurgood Marshall and Ms. Parks. That this boycott was successful was due to the risks taken by every single African-American who participated. While Dr. King led it, it would not have been possible without the people who actually boycotted the buses. Had the boycott not worked, Dr. King could have simply left. The people living in Montgomery couldn’t.
Besides Rosa Parks, there are so so many people who sacrificed so much in the name of civil rights. As I mentioned before, there is Thurgood Marshall and Rosa Parks. There is Medgar Evers and John Lewis. There is Fred Shuttlesworth. There are the Freedom Riders and the lunch counter protestors who took beatings at the hands of white racists. There is Micky Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, who lost their lives in the Freedom Summer of 1964 working for voting rights for African-Americans. There is Fannie Lou Hamer, who took it to the Democratic National Convention and pleaded her case. There is Malcolm X, James Meredith, Stokely…