The third Monday in January is commonly known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Martin Luther King Day, or my favorite MLK Day. What you might not know is that many states clump this holiday with their own state’s holiday(s).
The Lorraine Motel / National Civil Rights Museum
(Hankering for History Original Photo)
For instance, today is Lee–Jackson–King Day in Virginia. The state of Virginia uses this day to celebrate not only the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., but also the memories of Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. This is not an uncommon practice across the nation. There are several states that have decided that today is not only for Dr. King. In the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi, today is a day to celebrate the birth of Robert E. Lee. Whether these southern states intended it as an actual day of remembrance, along with the remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr., or just an opportunity to spit in the face of the holiday by clumping together an African-American civil rights leader and a General–if victorious– who would have kept King’s people in chains for decades, is unbeknownst to me.
However, there are states who are in the spirit of what King stood for and have marked this day not only as a celebration for Dr. King, but for what he stood for. In Arizona and New Hampshire, today is Civil Rights Day, and in Idaho, it is it Human Rights Day.
This not a post to talk about his excellent work as a non-violence civil rights leader or his expertise in civil disobedience.
This is not a post to call out Dr. King as a plagiarist or an adulterous man; we all fall short.
This is to remind everyone from where we have come, as a nation. I myself was not alive during the civil rights era, but from what I have read and seen, I believe that America is in a better place than it was fifty years ago. Well, maybe not financially, but with today being the second Presidential Inauguration of America’s first black president, you have to admit that America has become more egalitarian.
The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was such a devastating blow to America’s value system that flags across the nation were lowered to half mast. Wall Street closed for the first time in its history for a private citizen. Even George Wallace, one of America’s most notorious segregationist, described the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a “senseless, regrettable act.” (Of course, some would argue that he only regretted not being able to pull the trigger himself…)
I think it was said best by Gandhi, when she stated,
“[King's assassination] is a setback to mankind’s search for light. Violence removed one of the great men of the world.” - Indira Gandhi
I took the opportunity to go by the Lorraine Motel (Now the National Civil Rights Museum) to pay my respects to Martin Luther King. The museum is currently in the middle of making major renovations to the museum/motel. I was a little surprised by what I saw. Read the banner to the right.
Do people really think that the National Civil Rights Museum is here to “celebrate death and violence?” The National Civil Rights Museum’s website has the following on their website as its mission:
“… the Museum exists to assist the public in understanding the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement and its impact and influence on human rights movements worldwide, through its collections, exhibitions, research and educational programs.”
How could you even confuse the two? I understand that $27 million could provide good elsewhere, but come on. There is no way that anyone can actually believe that the museum was established to “celebrate death and violence.”
On a side note, I just finished Hellhound On His Trail, a National Bestseller about the assassination of Dr. King. Check out my book review on it!