Martin Luther King Jr. day needs to reflect his legacy

Meredith Comas, Opinions Editor

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Martin Luther King Jr. has gone down in American history as one of the most influential leaders in history. He even has an American holiday — celebrated each year on the third Monday in January — dedicated to him. Most schools and non-essential government offices observe this by closing for the day.

While many people around the country are celebrating the legacy King left by being active in their community, some are using this holiday to simply run errands or catch up on the recently added section of Netflix. While USD 383 takes the day off and Manhattan holds activities in King’s honor, the brief observance of the day simply is not enough.

Manhattan High and all of USD 383’s observance of MLK day was decent, but ultimately, did no true honor toward King when a significant amount of students didn’t participate. Rather, they stayed home to do nothing. It should be noted that, during the annual Mr. MHS pageant, Student Council paired with the Black Student Union to present different parts of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech — which tied perfectly with the pageant’s theme of “Heros,” — but this still isn’t quite enough.

In the larger Manhattan community, MLK events were offered, but poorly publicized. The Manhattan Public Library had activities throughout the day that honored King while getting kids active in the community. Teens in the community were invited to participate in their “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Teen Volunteering” in which students were able to gain volunteer hours around the city while focusing on King’s mission of serving others. The Manhattan Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee organized events in the days preceding MLK day as well as the day itself. There were art and writing contests, an MLK Jr. Day of Service, a prayer breakfast and a lecture hosted by Kansas State University members. While all of these would have been perfect opportunities to get involved, the lack of communication between organizers and community members left many in the dark about these events.

It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that there are simply too many failing to recognize the holiday as it should be — in honor of a great and influential leader — and the community plays a role in adding to that issue.

Manhattan High could easily incorporate a week dedicated to King and his mission. Give students the actual day off, but when they return to school spend a week discussing King and his work. Advisory serves as a place to build a student community with consciousness of all cultures and races, as well as the influence of students’ pasts and their futures. King played a huge role in the lives of so many, and continues to be an influence today. People should be talking about him and his work as well as the civil rights movement in general. It’s also a great segue as January heads into February, or Black History Month.

As for the issue with the Manhattan community as a whole, it’s a simple fix: communication and publicity. Spread the message through the schools, newspapers, radios; use the given resources. Help make the message known to the community so that everyone can celebrate and honor holidays and people like MLK.

King was a man who advocated for unity, rights for all and love for all through works of service and kindness. MLK day should reflect that. Everyone should be involved. Live out his legacy, Manhattan.

 

 

To listen to the conversation, play track 9.

 

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