A Look Into Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Getting down to the roots of the celebration.

Maggie Clark, Reporter

On Monday, January 17, Weatherford ISD schools were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day which has a rich history. The first observance of this school holiday occurred on January 20 of 1986 and was the result of Public Law 98-144.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential leaders of the American civil rights movement. King Sr. was not only a preacher, but also a leader in the early parts of the movement. King Jr. would inherit these roles from his father.

Within the American civil rights movement, King Jr. led the Montgomery bus boycott, participated in sit-ins, helped with desegregating Birmingham, Alabama, created the Poor People’s Campaign, and more. Most notably, Martin Luther King Jr. was a key figure in the March on Washington. The March was meant to compel the government to end racial segregation in education and employment, protect activists from police brutality, and create a minimum wage of $2. In front of the Lincoln Memorial, King gave his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech outlined the history of America’s racial discrimination and compelled the audience to consider how they were not free from the “chains of discrimination” which meant they weren’t receiving the freedom that had been promised to them in the Emancipation Proclamation. King emphasized the importance of peaceful protest and acknowledged the struggles that African-Americans were facing. He then went off script to deliver a message regarding his dream for racial equality. He paints a picture of a future in which racial discrimination is no longer.

Martin Luther King Junior’s legacy has been carried on in the furtherance of the civil rights movement, yet in Texas, his legacy could be lost. In July of 2021, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 3, which removes the requirement that the “I Have A Dream” speech and the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” be taught in schools. This means that teachers can decide to teach it themselves, but it is not part of the required teaching. Some students may miss out on being educated about this defining moment in the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King Junior furthered racial equality in America in an insurmountable way. As we remember him, we must remember that he gave his life to the cause of freedom for all.