From the BlogSubscribe Now

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2012

Speaking of today’s observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a friend, I was reminded of the time before there was an actual holiday.

It took approximately 18 years from the campaign for a federal holiday began after King was assassinated in 1968 to the signing into law by President Reagan in 1983 to the first observation in 1986. During that time, countless people lobbied and worked tirelessly for the day.

Take a look at this clip from the documentary, The Making of a Holiday.

Sometime in the 1980s, I attended a Stevie Wonder concert where he got the crowd all fired up about the efforts that had been underway. He ended the show with a rousing sing-along to the Happy Birthday song (lyrics below). I remember that my friends and I left the concert singing the song and on the drive back to Canada, discussing ways we could get involved.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

My friend reminded of the people, like herself, who before the day became an official holiday took the day off and made silent prayers that they’d have a job when they returned to work the following day. I was living in the States by then and was lucky enough to be working with a company that gave us the day off long before it became a recognized holiday.

There was a feeling of elation that year of the first observance. I remember the discussions. Everyone I knew wanted the day to live up to the ideal that Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced and espoused – that of service to others. We knew without an emphasis on service, it would be easy for the day to become just another shopping day. In fact, earlier today, I heard a commercial on television that went something like this: Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. We at (name of company) also have a dream…I couldn’t believe it.

After some resistance, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is now observed in all 50 states.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Happy Birthday, Dr. King (January 15th). Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“Happy Birthday”

You know it doesn’t make much sense

There ought to be a law against

Anyone who takes offense

At a day in your celebration

Cause we all know in our minds

That there ought to be a time

That we can set aside

To show just how much we love you

And I’m sure you would agree

It couldn’t fit more perfectly

Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

 

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

 

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

 

I just never understood

How a man who died for good

Could not have a day that would

Be set aside for his recognition

Because it should never be

Just because some cannot see

The dream as clear as he

that they should make it become an illusion

And we all know everything

That he stood for time will bring

For in peace our hearts will sing

Thanks to Martin Luther King

 

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

 

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

 

Why has there never been a holiday

Where peace is celebrated

all throughout the world

 

The time is overdue

For people like me and you

Who know the way to truth

Is love and unity to all God’s children

It should be a great event

And the whole day should be spent

In full remembrance

Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people

So let us all begin

We know that love can win

Let it out don’t hold it in

Sing it loud as you can

 

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday

Happy birthday

Happy birthday

Happy birthday

Ooh yeah

Happy birthday…

 

We know the key to unify all people

Is in the dream that you had so long ago

That lives in all of the hearts of people

That believe in unity

We’ll make the dream become a reality

I know we will

Because our hearts tell us so

 

Comments

  1. totsymae1011
    Twitter:
    says:

    So much can be credited to King spearheading the Civil Rights Movement. Out of that came, women’s liberation and students, who were segregated as a result of a disability, were provided with the right to a free and public education. And now, gay rights are tied in as a result of what Dr. King took on years ago.

    Today, more than ever, it feels as if we’ve shifted in reverse, which contrasts with The Dream speech.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..I’ll Bet You Never NoticedMy Profile

  2. Cathy Sweeney
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very nice tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr on this special day. Good to be reminded about the background of how MLK Day came to be. Enjoyed your story about the Stevie Wonder concert, too.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Marzipan MondayMy Profile

  3. Happy Birthday Dr King and Thank you for sharing your memories… ;-)
    ElizOF recently posted..Reflections: Que Sera Sera…My Profile

  4. Andrew Graeme Gould
    Twitter:
    says:

    How excellent that it’s a national holiday. Here’s to freedom and equality for all!
    Andrew Graeme Gould recently posted..Santiago, San Francisco, Sydney, Alice Springs: People and artMy Profile