On MLK 2013

Courtesy of the American Anthropological Association

Courtesy of the American Anthropological Association

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.

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61 thoughts on “On MLK 2013

  1. Yes, progress has been made but sadly there is so much more work that needs to be done. I founded a non-profit that dealt with the racism that exists in the criminal justice system. So much more work to be done…..Thanks for posting this.

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    • Leazen,
      Welcome first-time commenter! Wow … as a founder of a non-profit working with racism says a lot about your passion for the subject – so it is special to me that you reblogged this post … and as you know, racism is not just in the criminal justice system, but across life. Thanks for commenting and hope you contribute again in the future.

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      • Thanks Frank. Today is inauguration day and I am feeling a lot of respect for our president’s awareness of the importance of people power and organizing as the path to change. Public education is an important part of organizing. So, thanks again to you for doing your part!

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    • Rachel,
      Years ago, Arizona had a lot of hub-bub regarding MLK Day, and it seems that clamour has stuck with them. My research says that Arizona does have it as a holiday, which is called Martin Luther King/Civil Rights Day … and, that South Carolina was the last state to recognize it as a holiday for it’s state employees.

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  2. Thank you. Your post is such a fitting tribute to Dr. King. And it will hopefully spark some personal reflection that will ultimately generate actions tha will make this world a better more color-blind place.

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    • Patti,
      We can only hope and hang on to these words from Dr. Kings acceptance speech of the Noble Peace Prize: “I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind.” … Now there’s a high goal.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this video …. so important not to forget what is was like – because there is still evil out there .. BBC did programs about the problems in Northern Ireland … where the victims and victims families met their perpetrators – very strong meetings and programs … all didn’t go that well, but most .. forgave. So important.

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    • Viveka,
      Although we in the US seem to think this is limited to Black-White relations here, but oh no … it’s about relations throughout the world because racism is in many forms and in many places. Well said!

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    • Spiced,
      Unfortunately, racism is throughout the world … and tolerant people are also throughout the world. Unfortunately, racism will probably always exist, but we can hope that it decreases bit by bit … but humans are capable of making it happen quicker. Then again, I only said capable.

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  4. A simply wonderful post for Martin Luther King Day which I look forward to sharing with my friends and relatives. The video will stay with me for a long time.

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    • Rogue,
      Welcome first-time commenter! … Glad you enjoyed this – and the video is one that frequently comes to my mind ever since I first saw it on its original air date. Hope you visit and comment again in the future.

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  5. Well done Frank,
    I lived in the deep south for most of the 60’s when I was young. I witnessed things I will never forget. It’s amazing and sad that some attitudes still exist; not just here in the US, but everywhere. Catalysts for change, like MLKJr, represent bravery and a willingness to confront attitudes and norms that prevent positive social evolution. You honor him with this post.
    Thank you.
    Red

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    • Seattle,
      I recall that you lived in the South during your youth. And to think you were there in the 1960s … wow … and I’m sure you observed many things that shaped your personal philosophy. … So, for you to say that I’ve honored him with this post is quite a tribute … thank you … and I’m a bit overwhelmed with that thought.

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      • Frank,
        I so agree with Red. Great comment, Red! I, too, grew up in the South. Atlanta in the 60s and 70s. My family goes back many generations there. As did Dr. King’s…I so admire his bravery and his stand on non-violence – posted a short piece on my blog about it today. And, while I agree with you that I yearn for the day when race in a non-issue, I am so excited that President Obama’s inauguration coincides with the holiday. Great post, Frank.
        Cathy

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        • Cathy,
          Many thanks for the comment and supportive statements. I can’t imagine growing up in the South during those days. I have a good friend who did, and he has told me how ashamed he is at his own thoughts and behaviors of his early years. I grew up in a rural area, but I saw it there … and sadly, it’s still there.

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        • It was very interesting, even as a young child I did not “get” the racism. I felt that there was such a conflict between what I learned in Sunday and the song “Jesus loves the little children” really meant something to me – and what I saw even in my own family.

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        • For most, the world growing up is quite small …. and we have to think what we see is what is everywhere. Then again, fortunately, there can be something that drives the young to question.

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  6. I don’t understand the bit where someone said that their town would not celebrate the day because there were no Blacks living in the town. What has that to do with it? Martin Luther King was a great man. You don’t have to be black to appreciate that. I find it very difficult to understand the mentality of some people in the United States. Since coming back to Australia, after almost four decades in France, I have seen some of this predudice here too. I am quite baffled by it. What has happened to these people to make them so intolerant? Is it just a lack of education, or have they been indoctrinated? If the latter, who did it? Does it stem from fear? If this is the case, it doesn’t surprise me that so many USA citizens feel the need to carry guns. What an unhappy nation!

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    • Lady,
      You ask a great question about a city leader choosing not to honor the day, but only people with that mentality can answer it …. but I think the rest of us know the answer.

      Unfortunately, racism is throughout the world, thus comes in many forms. Although education may play a role, I tend to believe much goes back to the values taught within a family and attitudes one gets from the people they choose to be around.

      Guns is an interesting issue, and one that I don’t want to wade into today. However, I will give you this past post from not that long ago. https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/on-after-newtown/

      Thanks for your insightful comments!

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  7. I’m looking forward to visiting the Freedom Center this June. Love the docents, structure, quilts, maps and bios. So much to take in, it requires a visit each time I return to your city. Wish they had a curated book compiling all the exhibits.

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  8. Frank, that was a wonderful video to share today. Both for MLK Day, and Inauguration Day.

    I did yesterday just see reports of a West Point report on right-wing violence. One area of special growth is racist groups. We have a long way to go.

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  9. “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.”

    I’m floored by this. I’ve always had this day off and assumed all Americans did. How sad that some think this way. I don’t understand hate groups of any type. Not much I to say–I just don’t get it.

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  10. It’s a puzzle how fragmented society has become now.
    My cousin marched with Martin Luther (and was murdered not long afterwards)
    Downtown Houston has 2 MLK parades going on at the very same time…bitter battle for years between these 2 groups…they can’t even get along to honor this day?
    Very discouraging.
    All we can do is work with those immediately around us and hope common sense and civility spreads

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    • Mouse,
      Wow … and to think you are very close to that movement. Amazing … on the other hand, how sad is it that two groups are squabbling about celebrating the day. Seems to me that both groups should be shutout until they get their act together in the spirit of what Dr. King stood for. Thanks for sharing!

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      • The competition between the 2 groups is silly. Counter-productive
        For years they would battle to see which group got the permit to parade first. Then the city tried alternating every other year for the first parade. Last year and this one, they issued permits for parades at the same time different locations. Both claim they have the “real message” – the city is just trying to be respectful and make everyone happy.
        All you can do is shake your head and wonder. Oh, well, keeps things interesting. Always enjoy your blog

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  11. Today is a floating holiday of sorts at my company. We can either take today off or Good Friday. Even if I were not an atheist I always take off MLK Day. I remember when he was killed and although I was only in the third grade when it happened, his death disturbed me very much. In my little kid way I felt it was a huge setback in race relations. The one good thing I got out of my years attending Catholic school was a very strong sense of respect for all races. The nuns might have been crazy about Christ, but they were very sane about race and civil rights. They did teach us well in that one area.

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  12. This is the kind of “holiday” I would love to see be a mandatory work/school day, but with a twist. LEARN. Teach the kids just what the civil rights’ battle was all about. Have a forum at work, to learn what you company can do to help EVERYONE, regardless of any label. Have politicians from rich areas go to the ghettos, have politicians from the ghettos go to areas like mine here in rural Ohio, see the commonality.
    “Star Trek” has always been a favourite of mine, and not just for the technology. A bridge crew of Caucasian, Asian, European, African, and even extra-terrestrial – what a stunning sight in the 1960s. It’s the shame of our time that we have not lived up to the promise of both MLK and Gene Roddenberry, to see not colour, nor gender, nor religion, but to only see WE. THE. PEOPLE.

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    • John,
      On a similar note, today isn’t today also known as a National Day of Service?

      Meanwhile, I appreciate your example of Star Trek. Although prejudice and hatred did occur, it certain wasn’t the norm. I can only assume that Roddenberry and future writers of the series were making a statement about human behavior. Many thanks for sharing.

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      • The “Day of Service” is a fairly recent, but excellent, idea. I’ve always liked the idea of keeping kids in schools on “people” days – today, “Presidents’ Day” (or Lincoln’s Birthday, for us stubborn Illinoisans), or even Casimir Pulaski Day (that’s a Chicago one, for our large Polish population). Teach the kids on that day about that person, rather than sending them home to veg in front of the XBox. Have the parents do the homework with the kids, so we don’t end up with whole generations of people thinking Abraham Lincoln killed vampires! 😯

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  13. We kicked off our weekend finally seeing the movie “Lincoln” and I think that was fitting timing for this particular weekend. So much of what came through in that marvelous film reminds me that we have come far, yet have a long way to go if we are to embrace true equality between all people. I am somewhat surprised at the statistics you quote, in particular the increase in hate groups. That is an alarming realization. Thoughtful post, Frank. A few years ago I took a class addressing social and cultural contexts of racism. One of the speakers made it very clear that in some states, in particular we were talking about California, people are educated and acculturated to be politically correct. But although “we” are much better at keeping our prejudices in check, we still need to examine our thoughts and continually reflect upon our own perhaps hidden racist thoughts. As always, you are so good at bringing up the tough subjects and putting them out there for a good discussion.

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    • Debra,
      I appreciate your point about people being educated enough to watching what they say, but still examining their inner thoughts and feelings … as you say, the hidden racist thoughts. We both know that there are plenty people who just don’t believe their are racists! …. Besides, given the expanded culture in the U.S. and worldwide, racism isn’t just about Black & White. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  14. missing the closing parenthesis here: 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.

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  15. Magnificent, Frank. Simply magnificent!

    (May I repost two of your quotes in my next blog and link to your site for people to see the YouTube video above?) Part of my “retreat” and the upcoming blog is on how I spent Martin Luther King Day.

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  16. Pingback: A Different Set of Rules « how the hell did i end up here?

  17. Frank, you have me in tears with that video, thanks for sharing something so powerful and hopeful. As you said to Leazen, it is an interesting, and meaningful, confluence of moments in our history, guaranteed to stir up emotions so that hopefully they can be resolved. Thanks for a great post, my friend.

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    • Lynn,
      Many thanks for the kind words. If I had a list of videos that are most meaningful to me, this would be one of them. Good you watch it because although the video fits the post, I simply placed it there (without an intro) with hopes readers would take the time to watch it. Thanks for the kind words.

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