History acts as a reference point to the significant changes that happened in the past and influence how people act, live or behave. These reference points are important in keeping a certain heritage. For instance, the common reference point for most of the countries is Independence Day. It acts as a remembrance towards the liberation of a country by the forefathers. Such important days have become holidays set aside by the government for people to reflect on the sacrifices made by their ancestors. However, the current generation tends to disrespect these holidays by deviating from its true cause. Most of them see it as a day of making merry or wind away the day doing their personal business. The historical heritage might die away with time and lack meaning to the future generation. The paper looks into the disrespected nature of Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday and various ways they mock the day.
Anyone who tells the tale of black history or civil rights movement cannot fail to mention Martin Luther King Jr. His legacy traverses the books of history for his agility and great leadership skills when fighting for civil rights. However, he did not live to see the fruits of his labor due to his assassination in 1968 (Editorial Board par 3). He is famous for the ‘I have a dream’ speech where he looks forward to a time when people of different color can live together in harmony. He looked forward to the day children of different color would go to the same school and see each other as equals. These dreams were his main focus across the campaigns held in the nation (Editorial Board par 4). However, in the pursuit of civil rights, his main weapon was fighting violence with peace. It was the only way for the black people to gain their rights after failed attempts via violence. Apart from that, the peaceful protests showed their desire to fight for their rights without any harm despite the violent nature of the whites.
Eventually, his efforts and others became fruitful, and all black people received equal rights, but it was not an immediate change. His death and others beside him were a monument towards the equal rights people enjoy in the current times (Jackson par 4). However, it took a few years before the government declared his birthday as a holiday and different states adopted it as a paid holiday with time. Most of the black Americans commemorate the day by visiting his monument and holding prayers. Others choose to hold meetings and teach the young generation about their race and what the day means for them (Jackson par 5). However, the misinterpretations of the fight for equal rights by the current generation are against most of the teachings by Martin Luther. With every passing year, the celebrations become worse and centered on selfish needs by individuals and certain groups.
In this year’s celebration, there was a flyer doing rounds across the social media with a photoshopped image of Martin Luther wearing a gold chain and making a ‘gang’ sign with his hands. The flyer slogan was ‘Freedom 2 Twerk’ (Jackson par 6). The imagery and slogan do not count as part of a civil rights movement since it centers on immorality and selfish motives by teenagers and youths. In an interview with FOX, Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, expressed her emotions towards the flyer. According to her, the community is to blame for failing to teach the current generation their heritage and respect to the rights acquired by such great people (Jackson par 7). However, it is not the first time such a misuse of imagery became a headline in the news. Most parties scheduled for the day tend to incorporate his image among the models or as a promotional tool towards a particular drink or club. In others posters, slogans such as ‘Living the Dream’ and ‘Free at Last’ together with the image of Martin Luther are used in promoting the event (Kimble par 3). Such imagery is a mockery to the fight by icons such as Martin Luther. Their fight was for freedom for all to do the right things in life such as education, better pay, and opportunities. However, the young generation is using such imagery to fight for individual interests without uphauling the true message of such movements.
The symbolism behind Martin Luther King Jr. is that one can achieve freedom by keeping peace and staying true to the cause. The freedom should be beneficial to all, not a certain group, and it should be one with morals. The holiday’s abuse shows the lack of respect by some of the black Americans and the efforts taken by the legends in securing the freedom which they currently misuse. Apart from that, few of them implement his strategy when it comes to fighting for their rights. People turned to the old tactic of violence in pursuit of their equal rights yet it will only lead to chaos, destruction or death. In conclusion, the disrespect towards such holidays will lead to the wrong interpretation and appreciation by the future generations. It is the work of each citizen to understand, appreciate and respect the efforts done by the forefathers towards the freedom they currently enjoy.
Editorial Board, The Grand Rapids Press. Martin Luther King Jr. Still Relevant Today. 15 January 2012. Web. 24 March 2016. <http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/01/most-disrespectful-mlk-jr-day-flyers/>
Jackson, Harry R. The King Legacy: Don't Disrespect. 20 January 2014. Web. 24 March 2016. <http://townhall.com/columnists/harryrjacksonjr/2014/01/20/the-king-legacy-dont-disrespect-n1781516/page/full>
Kimble, Julian. The Most Disrespectful Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Flyers. 20 January 2014. Web. 24 March 2016. <http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/01/most-disrespectful-mlk-jr-day-flyers/>