MLK Day

NONPROFIT QUARTERLY: Time to Take Back Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Once again, the nation’s plans for celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tend toward the anodyne volunteerism projects that have been the bread and butter of past and present White Houses since the advent of the holiday in 1983. Such fare has always evinced a terrible myopia about the meaning and memory of Dr. King. This year, in the wake of a litany of race-related issues including police killings of unarmed black men in New York and Missouri, vigilante killings of black teens in Florida, retrenchment in key elements of the nation’s civil rights history regarding voting rights for persons of color, and increasing gaps between whites and blacks across a number of issues such as wages, health, and education, the “volunteer day” approach to celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day sells Dr. King and the nation’s racial troubles tragically short.