MLK Holiday Observed, Not Necessarily Understood

Steven Wetterholm, Staff Writer

At the beginning of each new year, the social contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other African Americans are commemorated by observing celebrations in January and February throughout America.  Students are encouraged to remember the achievements of these great Americans through their history studies and a variety of activities on school campuses nationwide.

The third Monday of January each year marks the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) as a federal holiday to observe the his birthday in remembrance of his nonviolent contributions to the civil rights movement.  President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, but all fifty states did not officially observe the holiday until 2000.

In addition to the January MLK holiday, Americans annually observe Black History Month in February to remember the history, culture, and important achievements of African Americans.  African American historian Carter G. Woodson initiated the celebration of Black History Month, which has been observed in America, Canada, and the United Kingdom since 1976.

Campolindo students celebrated MLK Day on Monday, January 16th, with a day off from school.  “MLK Day, to me, is a day to reflect on the progress of our country with regards to civil rights.  It’s a time to remember our mistakes and continue to move forward,” explained Erica Howland.

Howland also noted that she would like to see MLK Day and Black History Month addressed more in her courses and in the community so that students are more aware of America’s history.

Senior Janice Tam remembers seeing signs posted on campus about MLK, but feels that students “are more focused on the fact that MLK Day means a day off, rather than a day to honor a great American.”  Tam said, “I admire MLK and his accomplishments for civil rights.  I think that having finals week so close to the holiday might distract many students from thinking about MLK Day.”

Some students, like junior Marie Martin, would like to see more focus on the meaning behind national holidays on campus.  Martin explained, “I’ve never celebrated MLK Day with my family, even though I am aware of its importance.  I have seen MLK Day published in the Daily Bulletin, but I would like to see more attention given to the holiday at the school.”  Senior Alex Nelson added, “It’s important to recognize significant historical figures.  Martin Luther King’s work and message transcend race and should be respected and recognized on school campuses.”