Tuesday, December 7, 2010


            January is just around the corner, and with it, the national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Although black history month is in February, the United States honors MLK in the middle of January every year. It is somewhat ironic that we celebrate this national holiday in honor of a man whom the government feared because of the influence he had across America.
            I think about how many people were parts of the civil rights movement as a whole including Rosa Parks, Richard Lawson, Ruby Bridges, and Malcolm X among others. I realize that the whole month of February is dedicated to them in a way because they are a part of black history. But I think that in making January 17 “Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” it puts so much more of an emphasis on MLK and makes it seem like other’s contributions to the civil rights movement were not important. All civil rights leaders were crucial to the process of changing the status quo and should be recognized as well.  
It’s easy for teachers to focus on only King in class discussions and in assigning civil rights literature when they celebrate MLK Day in classrooms. I think it’s important to remember the civil rights movement as a whole on this day though because without the contributions of so many other activists, King would not have been as prominent of a figure.


  1. I think you bring up a great point here Olivia, and looking back, it probably wasn't until high-school that I even heard of Malcolm X. All that I was taught about the Civil Rights Movement throughout elementary school and junior high was Martin Luther King Jr. and while he was very important, like you point out he wasn't the only one. In fact even when I did first hear about Malcolm X, Lawson, and the other key leaders in high school we probably only spent about five minutes on all of them. I don't know if this is typical of all schools but I think that more of the story needs to be told.

  2. Coming from France, I have to say I did not know much about the Civil Rights Movement. The only person I had heard about vaguely was Martin Luther King Jr. I suppose the fact that it is called "Martin Luther King Jr. Day" emphasizes on him only, but he IS one of the key figures of the movement. Without him, the movement would not have been the same.

    However, I see where you are coming from and the fact that they named it after him does not give enough importance to the other important figures. That day should probably be named something like “African American’s freedom day”, because not only were there a lot of important people involved in the movement, but there was also a lot of common people fighting everyday and I think their fight should be acknowledged too on this day.

  3. I see where you're coming from, the Civil Rights Movement cannot be credited to a single person. However, I don't think that's what is being done by celebrating MLK's birthday. True, Martin Luther King was/is the face of the movement, but I believe he deserves to be recognized in this way. He fearlessly led several aspects of the movement and later in life became a martyr for the freedom of African Americans. We do, however, need to recognize the other irreplaceable leaders of the civil rights movement.

  4. I don't know which side of this I belong to. While we definitely need to recognize more leaders besides King, on MLK Day, many people think about the Civil Rights Movement and the changes that have come in our society over time. It does commemorate King, and I agree with Shelby he does deserve quite a bit of recognition, he really did do a lot. However, I think that not the name of the day, but the way in which we celebrate it is most important. As long as you think about more than just King, and think about the struggles in society and where America has come from there, then that's when you get the point of MLK Day.