Are there better ways to honor Dr. King than to take the day off?

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a holiday established in 1983 to honor the late civil rights leader. Most schools and government agencies close for the day, but many businesses remain open. Are there better ways to honor Dr. King than to take the day off?

  • Dave

    I always had thought that the whole point of the day off was to dedicate a work day to community service.

    Wikipedia tells me that was not really the spirit of the founding of the holiday, but that it was established officially when President Clinton signed the King Holiday and Service Act in 1994. “The federal legislation challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of Dr. King.”

    Dedicating the day rather to leisure and IKEA doesn’t help those of us of later generations especially to take his memory seriously as a radical.

  • Ryan

    As Chris Hayes (Washington Editor, “The Nation”) tweeted this morning:

    “MLK’s legacy wasn’t depoliticized “service.” He didn’t run soup kitchens (tho those vital & and important!) He fought the power structure.”

    Stand up for the rights of your brothers and your sisters. Fight for equal rights, same-sex marriage and universal health care.

  • Mike in St Paul

    Declaring a national holiday and thus a day off has been an American tradition for honoring the greats in our history.

    Perhaps it is time to rethink the tradition. In a modern society, where every other weekend is a reason for a sale or another advertisement opportunity, we deprecate the honor of a national holiday.

  • Ellen

    Better ways to celebrate? For school kids, definitely. They interrupt the learning day for MLK programs on Friday, then stay out of school on Monday. This is no way to narrow the “achievement gap” that still challenges the goals of the civil rights movement.

  • David

    Do you ask such a question about other national holidays? If those of us who get the day off work were to go to work as usual, would that be a fitting tribute to the values, work and political project of Dr. King? The MLK holiday at least provides the impetus for remembering, discussing and teaching about such things. And if it provides people extra time to fight the real battles for equality, peace, and justice, that is the true tribute to Dr. King!

  • Adam

    In college we remembered Dr. King by having a day of study and service in lieu of classes. I think that a national day of community service would be very fitting.

  • Abdi Takhal

    Donation, donation, donation. I texted twice to 90999. My Corporation challenged us that it will match what ever we (the employees) donate. Thus, I am planning to donate again.

  • Frank

    I think all offices and schools that close on MLK day, Presidents day, and Columbus day should dedicate those holidays to perform community service, is there a better way to honor those men?

  • John P.

    Day Off? What day off?

    It appears to me that the only people who actually have this day off are govenrment employees and students. I personally have never seen an MLK day off.

    If MPR’s unscientific web survey is accuarte, 2/3 of us have a work day as usual.

  • Susan WB

    Dare I suggest a day of contemplation, of reading Kings’ deep and moving body of work, and considering carefully how one relates to one’s neighbors? And perhaps looking for opportunities for self-improvement, especially in terms of race relations and unexamined prejudices?

    People jump to the conclusion that neither work nor leisure are “appropriate” and that only active service is a fitting tribute. But King was a man committed to the mental life as well as active civic engagement.

  • J.

    That depends on your definition of “better.” I appreciated hearing King’s “I Have a Dream” in its entirety on MPR today and wish more folks would take time to think about our nation’s (sometimes shameful) history and especially the history of race relations. But, on the other hand, what, exactly, is wrong or inadequate about celebrating with a day off? After all, that’s how we’ve long celebrated (white) presidents’ birthdays and Christian holidays in this country, and it seems quite adequate to those who regularly observe them. :/

  • Victoria Thor

    I teach at the Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School and every year on MLK Day we are in session and devote the entire day to learning about and celebrating Dr. King. Students experience music and art, guest performers, storytellers, and much more. We begin the day with an all school assembly which includes an invited guest from a faith other than our own. By the end of the day we leave for home inspired and more knowledgeable about the man and his vision and how we can move forward to continue his work.

  • Erik

    I appreciate that MLK did a lot to improve the lives of African-Americans and to bring more peace to our society and that, in turn, improved all of our lives. I have never had a day off to celebrate MLK and have therefore never celebrated the day outside of a thought “thank you” in my head.