Editorial: Monday is more than just a day off

Staff Editorial

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Most people in the Eastern community should know that Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day if for no other reason than it is a day off from classes and work.

The majority should know the reason as well our society celebrates King.

We all learned (or at least should have learned) the basics of the life and death of the iconic and revolutionary man while we were in grade school, most likely around the holiday itself or during Black History Month—which, unfortunately, is often one of the few times the African American story is brought to the forefront of the curriculum.

Anyone with a working knowledge of King knows that he was a Civil Rights leader; he gave a speech in which he said the words, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and he was assassinated by a gunman outside of a motel.

Though we all mostly have a working knowledge of King, we should take the day dedicated to his name to consider how his legacy fits into and shapes our culture.

While his life and work is certainly deserving of not only a holiday but also the unofficial designation of being a modern-era hero, we should not forget the oppression he had to fight against to make even the slightest inch of progress during his life.

For instance, because of the many protests he led, King was jailed 29 times in the 39 years he was alive.

There have been a number of figures throughout history with similar plights—society vilifies them during life, executes them and then glorifies them as heroes after death, such as Ghandi.

Then, society realizes it was wrong and attempts to honor its martyrs, which brings us to things like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Remember that the society that created the need for someone like King is the same one that created the man who killed him, and—though we’ve progressed considerably thanks to his efforts—in some ways is the same one we live in now.

Realize that, though he was truly a leader and deserves his iconic status, he would not have accomplished anything alone.

In other words, waiting for a revolutionary to come along and lead the way won’t get us anywhere; it takes people working together and challenging one act of oppression at a time to break down something as stained into our culture as racism.

Take the time to appreciate what King did. His nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights movement helped establish laws to fight against racial discrimination.

 The daily editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial board of The Daily Eastern News.