Each year, Ferris puts together a variety of activities and performances to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Both students and faculty across campus take time to participate in student tributes, dinners and freedom marches. The MLK Planning Committee also puts together the Tunnel of Oppression Exhibit which showcases cultural issues that have influenced our society. As an African-American college student, I agree that we should be considerate of the opportunities Dr. King has given minorities. However, I agree even more strongly that we should not confine the thought of his legacy to only the third Monday of January. The legacy of Dr. King should be a part of our lives that we live every day.
Though MLK day was first observed in 1986, it was not until 2000 that it was officially recognized by all 50 states.
Dr. King’s contributions to society were not bound by age, gender, or race. Throughout Dr. Kings’ life, he addressed numerous social issues including equal rights for sanitation workers, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. His nonviolent approach to ending racial segregation even earned Dr. King the Nobel Peace Prize. Therefore, his legacy should equate to more than just a week of acknowledgement and another day of no classes.
Rather, it was by African-Americans seeing an end to Jim Crow, or the election of the first African-American president, Dr. King has raised the bar for what our society is capable of accomplishing. Ultimately, he has changed the way the world looks at itself.
Though I highly appreciate the focus Ferris places on MLK events, I believe that when the exhibits are closed and the marches are over, his memory should still continue to be relevant in our own personal lives. n