MLK day has been around ever since I can remember. But there are many people out there who remember a time before and a time after this national holiday. It was first proposed back in 1968, and finally was brought to a vote in 1979, where it failed to get through the house by five votes. Some members of congress were unconvinced that his work was worthy of being commemorated with a national holiday, but by 1983 Reagan signed the bill to create a national holiday commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and by 1986 it was observed all over the US.
And now, 29 years later, I think the importance of Dr. King’s work is clearer than ever. The news is full of things that remind us we still have a long way to go before the work that Dr. King started can be considered complete. And even though I’m at work on this day (like many of you I’m sure!) I’m proudly wearing an MLK lapel pin to remind myself and others of this ongoing struggle for racial equality.
People are afraid to bring it up, certainly. It’s a touchy subject, and not one that everyone is trained to to discuss. But even if it’s done imperfectly, these conversations still need to be had. And if broaching the subject is difficult, maybe something like an MLK lapel pin can help start the conversation for you. People speak volumes without saying a word when they wear lapel pins, whether they’re breast cancer awareness ribbons or “Proud to be a Republican” pins.
Dr. King was unable to keep pushing the conversation of racial equality, so now it’s up to us. Let’s change the tone, change the fear, change the stereotypes, and really get to the heart of the matter. Dr. King’s dream is one we can all see through, if we just start talking, and don’t stop.