It’s Martin Luther King Day here in the U.S.. To this day, it remains a somewhat controversial holiday; while Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1983 and first observed as a federal holiday in 1986, many states resisted the idea until 2000. Some refused to mark the holiday, and Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi prefer to throw in Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s name into the mix, which is kind of like declaring the Fourth of July “Al-Qaeda Day / Independence Day”.
Over at The Root, Felice Leon looks at what’s been gained and lost over the thirty years since MLK day became a federal holiday. Among the losses, there are:
- the removal of a key provision in the Voting Rights Act, a move specifically intended to restrict people of color’s access to the ballot box,
- continued attacks on unarmed people of color,
- mediocre student (and mediocre person) Abigail Fisher’s attack on affirmative action as a response to her not getting into the University of Texas, despite not having qualifying grades, and
- transgender people of color under siege
For gains, she lists:
- A salute to Dr. King,
- Black faces in high places,
- the rise of Black Lives Matter,
- the Affordable Care Act,
- LGBT service members in the military, and
- same-sex marriage.
Yes, not all of the gains are just about black people, but civil rights in general, and that’s a key part of Dr. King’s legacy, for which I, as a force of darkness (my preferred replacement phrase for “person of color”) living in the U.S., am grateful.
Happy MLK Day!