MLK Day 2022

Alexis Algazy, News Editor

Nearly fifty-nine years ago, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made the famous speech entitled “I Have a Dream,” in which he said “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” Through his prose, King drew attention to the continued discrimination almost a century after the Civil War and Reconstruction Era ended chattel slavery in the United States.

Now, fifty-nine years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, discrimination against the Black community continues to be overtly present in the country, and activists continue in King’s footsteps as activists for the American civil rights movement. Modern day movements, such as Black Lives Matter, bring attention to issues similar to those King addressed.

According to data from 2020 collected by the Department of Justice, there has been an increase in hate crimes motivated by race, ethnicity and ancestry by 38% since 2019. However, hate crime by private individuals is not the only way the country is seeing discrimination. Bias can be seen in law enforcement and other public entities as well. One of the most publicly portrayed instances of the discrimination at the hands of law enforcement is the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin can be seen pressuring his knee against George Floyd’s neck. His autopsy report states that he died of “asphyxia due to neck and back compression [that] led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.” While many tend to believe that the treatment of Black Americans is far better than in the past, this increased targeting of Black or African Americans in the U.S. suggests the opposite may be true in some areas.

The Uniform Monday Holiday act was put in place in 1968 by Congress, with the intention to allow workers to have long weekends throughout the year. However, this act is opposed by some who believe these holidays should take place on the date that the holiday commemorates. This is the act that dictates that every third Monday in the month of January marks MLK Jr. Day, as it is MLK Jr.’s birthday month.

To incite change moving forward, racially motivated violence and discrimination cannot be neglected. Rather, civil discourse must be encouraged. Martin Luther King Jr. Day encourages us to reflect on the problems and promise we currently face when confronting issues of racial justice. The existence of a holiday such as MLK Jr. Day insists that conversation and action takes place.