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Is the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday for Blacks Only?

FT. LAUDERDALE – Since 2003, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Celebration Committee, (MLKCC) has endeavored to present events to celebrate the spirit of the King Holiday in Broward County.

The MLK Celebration Committee was formed originally to be an independent vehicle to create and present meaningful and inspirational events for the King Holiday in Broward County.  The MLKCC organization has always been volunteer-run – committed to raising the funds to present an appropriate a celebration that pays proper homage and honor to the legacy of Dr. King.

The MLKCC mission mandates that the King Holiday Celebration it puts forth is both inclusive and instructive. And that the King Holiday Celebration empowers youth to continue in the tradition and spirit of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.

In the past year, with all that is going on in American culture as it relates to race, criminal justice, youth empowerment and the body politic, the MLKCC organization had to do some soul-searching as it relates to moving the envelope forward.  Status quo clearly is not enough, not today.

Which raises the question – is the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday for Blacks only?  “It took decades and hard battles to get the King federal holiday enacted in the first place,” author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson noted in his essay, “King Holiday is Still a Black Holiday for Far Too Many Americans.”  “The King Holiday in far too many public and private circles is still regarded as a “black holiday” or more charitably a civil rights issue,” Hutchinson writes.  “This reinforces the chronic fiction that King was solely a black leader, and that the civil rights movement was a movement only for blacks and that his holiday should be celebrated exclusively by blacks.”

Hutchinson further writes, “King’s ‘moral imperative’ quickly stretched far past the limits of the civil rights movement. The leaders of the gay and women’s rights movements were motivated by King’s actions and borrowed heavily from the tactics of the civil rights movement.  Ceasar Chavez, who now has his own California holiday, repeatedly praised King and other civil rights leaders for encouraging and providing aid to the farm-worker and labor organizing battles.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yet given where we are today in America, politically – it still begs the question?  Is the King Holiday for blacks and maybe browns only? With major political candidates vying for the American presidency calling for mass ‘brown-skin’ deportations, being closed lipped about the murdering of black and brown youth in urban centers across the nation and calling for religious discrimination – should the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday be celebrated by only black and brown Americans?

Chris LeBron, assistant professor for African American Studies and Philosophy at Yale University writes, “but here is an uncomfortable truth: Is [the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday] a triumph of acceptable minimums rather than full respect for those who continue to wait for Dr. King’s dream to become reality?

The MLKCC organization is again seeking to push the envelope by taking a bold step to move the 2016 King Holiday Parade and Unity March to Andrews Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale.  Andrews Avenue has traditionally been a racial line of demarcation between the blacks and whites and the have and have-nots in Fort Lauderdale.

“I think it goes without question that not only has the idea of a post-racial America proven to be a myth, but that racial inequality remains a tragic mark on the character of this otherwise great nation – a nation founded on respect not only for what persons hope to accomplish in life but for what they are,” Chris Lebron wrote.

The MLKCC invites all of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County to join in the 2016 King Holiday Parade and Unity March followed by the Celebration of Unity and Multicultural Festival in Huizenga Plaza for a demonstration of hope in Dr. King’s ideals of humanity and compassion.  Without it, America threatens to be false to it past, to its present, leaving our future insecure.

Go online at www.kingholidaycelebration.com to learn more about the 2016 King Holiday Celebration.


Wayne L. Alexander

Board Chair, MLKCC

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The SFLCN.com Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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