Dawn at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2016. (Photo: Zach Gibson / New York Times)
MLK Day has since become a day centered around a watered-down or "sanitized" telling of the life of King and the movement he was a part of. Today, many young people will be taught a warped version of history -- punctuated by King's inspiring speeches -- that overlooks the hard work of organizers. With a neo-fascist president-elect taking office in just four days, these ahistorical narratives are dangerous.
Monday, January 16, 2017 | Coretta Scott King testified before Congress twice, in 1979 and 1982, to argue for the importance of instituting a national holiday in honor of her late husband, Martin Luther King Jr.
Pushback to the proposed holiday included conservative Democrat Congressman Larry McDonald's assertion that a recognized holiday centered around King -- a figure who both engaged in civil disobedience and openly criticized the government -- would encourage young people to foster "contempt for the law."
Asha Rosa Ransby-Sporn is a Black, queer writer and organizer currently serving as a national organizing co-chair for Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100). She was part of the We Charge Genocide youth delegation to the United Nations in 2014 where she testified on police violence in Chicago. Asha is committed to movements that embrace the transformative potential of a radical/Black/queer imagination towards the abolition of police and prisons.
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“What they truly advocate is Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., Address Delivered at the National Conference on New Politics, August 31, 1967