What is This Holiday All About?


This holiday is not about having a three-day weekend in January.

This is not a holiday exclusively for African-Americans, or people who grew up in the 1960s. This holiday is not about dreamers, or about smoothing over differences between people. It is not a holiday about being nice to people no matter what they look like.

“I know where we can store that food free of charge — in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God’s children in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even in our own nation, who go to bed hungry at night.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a contemplative activist. He is the only African-American, and the only member of the clergy, for whom the United Staes has a national holiday.

He was the first African-American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He put the principles of nonviolent action he studied in graduate school into practice to change how the world works.

This is a holiday about changing the world.

“Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak.”

He was not a perfect person. His actions did not always reflect his words.

He had a passion for justice, and a passion for putting ideas into practice.

Six months after he had received his doctorate, at the age of 26, he was asked to lead the organization supporting a boycott of segregated public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama. His leadership and ability to communicate the values of the boycott brought him to prominence.

“Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.”

What is this holiday about for you?

How will you celebrate the holiday, and the life of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.?

[Image by ash_crow]

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  • http://minibuk.com Kathy Seid

    Every holiday, I would read to my children about the meaning of the holiday. My children are grown now, but I’ve emailed them your post. Thank you. You have me thinking … perhaps I need to write a MiniBük about each holiday.

    • Strategic Monk

      Thank You, Kathy.

      Yes, that is a great idea! We get caught up in all the holiday traditions, decorations, and commercializations. It is easy to lose sight of the deep truths each holiday is about.

  • http://twitter.com/Simon_GB Simon Harvey

    It is interesting and somewhat sad that this holiday is just a US event, and even then, if you do not have Kids at school it can become just another day off work when living in the USA.

    I am so glad that you offered up a reminder of this great man who certainly changed the face of the USA, and still today inspires so many others. Since I am in the UK where many will have no idea about this holiday, or for that matter know much about this man either, I am glad I found your post. There is so much wonder in the world, yet violence still dangles its false riches in our eyes.

    An event of remembrance of such a man can only make a better life. Thanks for reminding me of this great person that proved non violence & love can become a lever big enough to move a world.

    • Strategic Monk

      Thank you, Simon.

      Yes, it is easy for us to forget. The holidays that are intended to remind us and encourage us to follow an example can become obscured. We can become caught up in trappings and lose sight of the values and the vision.

      I hope you have a meaningful Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Simon.