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What Does Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Mean to You?

By Rebekah Skeens
On February 1, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr. gives "I Have a Dream" Speech in Washington D.C.
Photo Courtesy of BET

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates the life achievements of an influential leader and civil rights activist. On this day, many people from all sorts of backgrounds, races, and communities unite to share these ideas, and honor Dr. King. We celebrate how he inspired nonviolent movements, not only in the United States, but across the entire world through virtues in hope and command. Since 1986, MLK Day has been celebrated across the nation. While it took longer for some states to observe the holiday, this holiday has resonated with society for over 30 years.

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most influential and greatest speeches of all time. It has been 54 years since the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and many are still being affected to this day. On Monday, Jan. 15, we commemorated the values Dr. King encouraged in our nation many years ago. The many examples he set moved the entire United States to have great leadership skills, to be empowered and inspiring. He had a vision that he could change the life he and others were living. 

MLK Day is observed to honor his legacy and all his accomplishments along the way. Today, this holiday affects many public places including schools and universities, offices, and any federal institution, such as the post office. The day is supposed to be a day of praise to King and a day to serve one’s community. Are people recognizing their duty or is it merely a day off?

Concord University students acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact and all his good deeds. To some, the holiday may have lost meaning, but to our students, it still has great import. 

Student Sophie Klein believes that Dr. King was an incredible inspiration to many. She shares how without him, things would have been unacceptable. “I genuinely think the civil rights movements could have been even more violent and aggressive from both parties.”

Klein shares how the holiday comes with many different emotions, including happiness and remorse. She mentions that we should continue to share his beliefs, which are supremely important, but we should keep in mind the true meaning of the holiday. “To love all people, no matter the color of your skin.”

Kevin Compton, Concord sophomore, comments on what Martin Luther King Jr. Day means to him. “It isn’t just a day off for students and our workforce. It’s a day we must remember how hatred and ignorance affected so many people.”

He continued by stating what types of feelings arise due to this holiday and about how Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man, and how he stood for a movement that still has power today. Like many others, he agrees that it is inspiring to see the differences he has made. “As a future teacher, I hope I can make a difference that triggers inspiration in my students just as Dr. King did.” 

For many of us there is still meaning to this day, and of course it is not just about a free day at home. It’s about understanding the sacrifice and commitment of Martin Luther King Jr. We must remember the life of Dr. King and continue to challenge our own outlook of this world. As individuals, we will continue to grow and aspire to be the greater good in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

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