A national holiday honoring both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy would be more than deserved. With everything these great men did for the Civil Rights Movements and helping the poor, it would be a great opportunity to further their message. Unfortunately with their shared fate in 1968, it would also be a day of remembrance of what might have been. One state already has a day where two men with these names are honored.
The 3rd Monday in January every year is known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. After King was assassinated in 1968, it took 15 years for the federal government to make it a national holiday, which first took effect in 1986. Many states called the holiday other names not wanting to name it after Dr. King or not wanting to make a holiday about civil rights focus on one man. Some like New Hampshire chose instead to name the holiday “Civil Rights Day.”
New Hampshire had the distinct honor of being the last state in the country to name the holiday for Dr. King which they finally did in the year 2000.
Yes, even Mississippi celebrated MLK Day before New Hampshire.
Some southern states have chosen to go in an entirely different direction. As mentioned earlier in the article there is in fact a holiday that honors Martin and Robert in both Alabama and Mississippi. The 3rd Monday of January is known in those states as Dr. Martin Luther King Day and also Robert E. Lee’s birthday.
Yes the civil rights leader shares his holiday with a Confederate General.
Even Tennessee, which celebrates several confederate holidays, has decided to give Dr. King his own day. But before I go giving Tennessee too much credit, they do celebrate Nathanial Bedford Forrest Day every July 13th who was a Confederate General and the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
In Arkansas they also used to celebrate the birthdays of Lee and King on the same day, but in 2017 they decided to move Lee’s holiday to another day. I’m sure Robert E. Lee would have preferred his own separate but equal holiday anyways. I’m sure his ghost was just waiting to be freed from the tyranny of having to share his holiday with another.
I guess it was Lee’s birthday before it was King’s, so maybe it’s just a lost cause.
Virginia used to have a magical thruple holiday celebrating Lee, King and Stonewall Jackson all on the same day known as Lee-Jackson-King Day. Not only was Dr. King outnumbered on his own holiday, but he was almost an afterthought. Happy Confederate Generals Day! We’ll celebrate them all, oh wait it’s the 1980’s? I guess we can add that civil rights guy too.
Eventually in 2000 the three men were separated. King was finally given the entire day to himself, and the other two were moved to the Friday before, making for a very odd weekend. Celebrating slavery on Friday and civil rights on Monday.
Progress could be made on the issue, as we have seen with Columbus Day, as several states have replaced the holiday with Indigenous People’s Day. This change focuses the celebration on the people who lived in the Americas before the European settlers arrived rather than someone who unleashed genocide and slavery upon them.
Idaho has chosen to go in a completely different direction by naming the holiday Martin Luther King Day/Idaho Human Rights Day. I guess just trying to see if we forgot about them. Maybe they wanted to remind us that people in Idaho are humans too, but I’m not so sure about that. I’ve always assumed they were some kind of tatter-tot human hybrid.
Wyoming seemed to go in a similar direction with Martin Luther King Day/Wyoming Equality Day. No Wyoming, you are not our equal, and yes I am willing to die on that hill.
Who knows, maybe this will swing back entirely the other way in places like Alabama and Mississippi and they’ll start to celebrate Holocaust Remembrance Day/Hitler’s Birthday on the same day. Wait, I think one of those states might already be doing that.
Don’t worry I’m sure they’ll give Joseph Goebbels his own Day sometime in July right around Nathanial Bedford Forrest Day.