The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

January 20, 2014

In Our Opinion: Why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

--
The Daily Star

---- — Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That information hardly comes as any kind of news flash. Still, it’s worth noting.

Why?

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That’s why.

“… When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

That’s why.

For those too young to remember listening to those excerpts and the rest of the Rev. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered as the highlight of the massive March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

That’s why.

For those too young to remember separate water fountains and bathrooms for white and black people.

That’s why.

For those too young to remember “separate but equal” school systems for whites and blacks that were far more separate than equal.

That’s why.

For those too young to remember the peaceful protesters who were met by Southern state government-sanctioned beatings, by vicious police dogs, by high-pressure water blasts, by murders of civil rights workers and innocent little girls in church.

That’s why.

For those too young to remember poll taxes and other sinister means that were used to keep African Americans from voting … and for those old enough now to recognize that those voting rights are once again in jeopardy by new state statutes almost equally as sinister. 

That’s why.

For those too young to realize how remarkable it is that Americans elected — and re-elected — a black president.

That’s why.

For those too young to have ever experienced a United States that did not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the third Monday of January.

That’s why.

For those too young to know how Republicans and Democrats came together against spirited opposition to pass a bill in 1983 signed by President Ronald Reagan — who had originally opposed the legislation — creating the federal holiday, first celebrated in 1986.

That’s why.

For those who don’t know how easy it could be for a dangerous brand of bigotry and intolerance to return to our wonderful country.

Most of all, that’s why we take note today of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.