MLK Day causes debate


Photo by Gloria Holt.

Martin Luther King Jr. waves to crowd at the March on Washington in 1963 where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

For over a decade, Martin Luther King Jr. served as the primary leader of the US Civil Rights Movement in which he preached peaceful protest. In 1983, 15 years after MLK’s assassination, President Ronald Reagan signed MLK Day into law, making it a national holiday.

While it is a federal holiday, about 42 percent of private businesses and a handful of schools across the country stay open on MLK Day according to Kansas City Business Journal. This has prompted a debate on whether or not it is ethical for these schools and businesses to remain open.

“It’s great to get the day off, it really shows that this is an important [holiday],” sophomore Kaelyn Dart said. “But also if we were at school, we could dedicate that day to learning more about MLK.”

Senior Kayvonne Ferguson believes that getting the day off serves to show the importance of the holiday. However, Ferguson also thinks the school should spend more time educating students about MLK around the holiday since the school gets the day off.

“I think introducing the topic of MLK in school more will [help students better understand] the idea of civil rights and like what the country was going through at a time less than 100 years ago,” Ferguson said.

Regardless of their differing opinions, both Dart and Ferguson acknowledge King’s importance to the history of the country.

“[MLK Day] is a representation of someone who fought really hard for change in this country,” Ferguson said. “So I think it’s a very important day for people of color, like me, and everyone in the school, as it represents a time in our country that wasn’t very good, but also someone who made the most out of being a leader.”

In recent years, people around the country have begun calling the day MLK Day of Service. The reasoning behind the name is that people should spend the time doing what Corporation for National and Community Service calls a ‘day on.’ The site helps people coordinate and find volunteer opportunities for people to help out around their community.