MLK Day: My First Week and Weekend Over

Today was quite the first: It was the first time I have ever been given Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday.

Yes, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District continues to ignore the fact that MLK Day is not only a federal holiday, but a time to celebrate one of the greatest figures in American history. I might find the district's negligence a little less irksome if they took even the smallest of efforts to promote district-wide instruction and events surrounding Dr. King's life during the school day, but as far as I know it has done absolutely nothing in that direction. Individual teachers may take the initiative to teach about the meaning of the holiday their children aren't receiving, but I think it's safe to say most students are left in the dark.

There might be an argument to keep students in school on MLK Day so that they would all better appreciate its significance, but that position couldn't even begin to have merit until all teachers are encouraged to incorporate this essential figure in American history into their curricula. Even so, not much impresses children more than a school-less Monday, and teachers could easily show their students the Friday before how this hero of the recent past merits them a free day.

Last year, I took it upon myself to promote MLK Day at Kayhi, reading an excerpt of "I Have a Dream" on the morning announcements. I had planned on putting up fliers throughout the school with MLK quotes too, but as with most of my plans involving getting to school early, it didn't work out. This year I printed out those same fliers and put them up in my residence - one on the main door, two on the stair, and the rest on my floor, save one that I put in the entrance to the dining hall - one of three that said "GOT MLK?"

Since last year I have decided that MLK Day really has to be my favorite national holiday. It's existence more than makes up even for the outrage that is Columbus Day - at least as long as the former is popular and the latter scorned. Think about it - no greater man is honored in this country than Dr. King. Despite his faults, King represents the greatest individual example of the power of love and justice in action in America's history. No other holiday Americans celebrate better promotes the best of humanity - non-violence, love, the power to change, the power to stand for what is right and to stand against hate. What other holiday could mean so much?

Despite all that, my first MLK Day as an adult was pretty humble. I went on no marches, went to no events, and didn't do much in the way of action. I put up the quotes, which I hope will be provocative and appreciated by those who read them, and I also took a journey to the U Street District, to which I hadn't been, where I visited the landmark restaurant Ben's Chili Bowl - so famous as to have its own Wikipedia page, and even to be known by my dad, who said he'd heard of the place when I mentioned it. This blogger ate at Ben's on MLK Day too, and although I didn't see it indicated in the restaurant or anywhere else online, he says that Dr. King himself ate there. The restaurant's certainly been around long enough. I find the possibility inspirational, no matter how humble.

At the end of today, I think I've had a nice close to my first weekend back at Georgetown. I did a lot of my first reading assignments, and although it may seem disappointing that I haven't yet finished them when I had a three-day weekend, keep in mind that last semester, many of my class readings went entirely unread. The key with freshman year is following the learning curve, and I think I'm going to keep doing better and better in my classes and dealing better and better with my homework as time goes on. All I need to do is act. I may mostly just be acting by going through my education as best I can, but I can still do good where I can, and hopefully prepare to do a lot more good to come.


I'm already thinking up plans for next year.


  1. I have MLK and shared books about him with my students on January 15th and 18th. I'm proud of you for putting up quotes at your school as well as the funny "Got MLK?" to mark the holiday. Good on 'ya, Peter!


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