Monday (January 21, 2013) is Martin Luther King Day – a federal holiday (since 1986) in the US, which actually means a vacation day for federal employees.
States have the opportunity to declare a holiday for its employees – and most, if not all, have on this day. In my state of Ohio, local government/public groups have the option of declaring the day a holiday.
Private employers also have an option of exercising the holiday,but only a bit more than a third do. A small percentage of others offer this day as a floating-holiday option.
Whether one chooses or not, and no matter the occasion, holidays provide the opportunity to reflect. In other words, holidays are more than just a day off from work.
Dr. King’s work and the Civil Rights movement was huge news in the 1960s. Today, two factors dominate my mind: Yes, we as a society have come a long way – but we still have a long way to go. Let’s look at a some information that may seem disjointed, but there’s a relationship.
Barack Obama’s candidacy, election, and reelection sparked its share of racism, although many disguise it in other ways.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports the number of hate groups has increased 69% since 2000.
An Associated Press survey (released 2012, in cooperation with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago), concludes that when measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, anti-Black sentiments increased to 56% in 2012.
Somewhere there is a city council member proudly stating their city does not recognize Martin Luther King Day as a holiday in the name of prudent fiscal management, while also pointing out there are no Blacks living in that city.
Whether professional, spiritual, or personal, reflection is a powerful tool that can drive personal change. I sincerely wish that race was irrelevant – unfortunately it isn’t – and maybe that day of irrelevance will come in the future. However, if it does, it will not be due of legislation, Supreme Court rulings, or any other civic action, but from personal reflection – after all, that’s what modifies individual behavior – but that will be have to done by a vast majority.