More on celebrating the MLK holiday
I am going to New York next week to participate in New York University’s ninth consecutive celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on Feb. 6.
The theme of the celebration will be “The Power of Courage,” and the program, which has been organized by Morgan France, NYU’s vice president of diversity, will feature awards to students who have contributed to meaningful change and include short speeches by MSNBC talk show host Melissa Harris Perry and myself as an activist and philosopher.
When Congressman John Conyers and singer Stevie Wonder launched the campaign and President Ronald Reagan signed the bill to make MLK’s birthday a national holiday, no one had any idea this would happen.
The holiday could have become an excuse to idolize King as a charismatic leader at the expense of the many thousands of grassroots activists who made the Civil Rights Movement a turning point in U.S. history.
Or it could have become an occasion for fireworks, BBQs and Black Fridays as other national holidays have become.
Instead, many — probably most — U.S. schools, universities, churches, community organizations and so on, are using the holiday for community service, reflection and transformation.
It’s as if the American people are finally responding to the call for a “radical revolution of values” that MLK made in his 1967 “Time to Break the Silence” speech. It suggests the next American revolution, which will be very different from all previous revolutions in Europe, Russia, China, has already begun.