The Long Road to MLK Day/¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Today is the official U.S. holiday celebrating civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. I find it hard to believe that the campaign to create a national holiday to honor King proved such a long and arduous struggle. The first federal bills proposing the holiday failed to pass, and it took corporate money and Stevie Wonder’s anthem “Happy Birthday” to change minds. As the song’s lyrics pointed out, “There ought to be a law against anyone who takes offense at a day in your celebration. I just never understood how a man who died for good could not have a day that would be set aside for his recognition.”

Even after the bill establishing the King holiday was finally signed into law in 1983, certain states refused to celebrate it. The state of Virginia turned it into a mockery by adding Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to the mix and renaming the holiday Lee-Jackson-King Day. Finally in 2000, all 50 states came on board and began celebrating the holiday as intended.

Whereas most national holidays in the U.S. promise a day off work and those “one-day only! not-to-be-missed!” sales, Martin Luther King day also includes the MLK Day of Service, inviting Americans to contribute time and effort to help their communities and neighbors. Seems a pretty fitting legacy for Dr. King.

The new MLK memorial in Washington, D.C., has proven nearly as controversial as the national holiday.

El nuevo monumento en Washington, D.C., en honor a Martin Luther King, Jr. ha demostrado ser casi tan polémica como la fiesta nacional.

!Feliz cumpleanos a Martin Luther King, Jr!  Hoy es el día de fiesta oficial en EEUU para honrar a Martin Luther King Jr., el líder de derechos civiles. El año pasado, estaba escuchando una lección de Spanish Pod sobre el Dr King que incluyó un parte de su discurso más famoso llamado “Tengo un Sueño”. Decidí memorizar la porción porque admiro las esfuerzas del Dr King y además memorizar algo es una buena manera para aprender un idioma. Aquí está:

Cuando repique la libertad y la dejemos repicar
En cada aldea y en cada caserío,
En cada estado y en cada ciudad,
Podremos acelerar la llegada del día cuando todos los hijos de Dios,
Negros y blancos, judíos y cristianos, protestantes y católicos,
Puedan unir sus manos y cantar las palabras del viejo espiritual negro:
”¡Libres al fin! ¡Libres al fin! Gracias a Dios omnipotente, ¡somos libres al fin!

Además aprendiendo palabras nuevas como “repicar”, “caserío” y “acelerar” memorizar este discurso resultó en mi primero juego de palabras. (Por favor, entiende, no intento ningún falto de respeto al Dr King. El juego de palabras solo refleja mi tendencia a pronunciar mal la palabra “libres” como “libros”.)

¿Qué dijeron los manuscritos cuando al fin estuvieron publicados?
¡Libros al fin! ¡Libros al fin! ¡Gracias a Dios omnipotente, somos libros a fin!

Cuando compartí este juego de palabras con la Flaquita, me dijo, “Mamá, ¡eres un comelibros!”

3 responses to “The Long Road to MLK Day/¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

  1. Pingback: Un Poco Quisquillosa

  2. I completely agree, although sadly, many down here in the south don’t seem to. I was faced by a coworker yesterday who, while walking to lunch with me, mentioned she was upset her recycling wasn’t picked up because of the holiday. There was a long pause and then she said, and I quote, “No offense (I am guessing all she could see in her mind was D’s face), I mean, I don’t think anyone should have this day off at all in all honesty.” After my silence, she followed up with, “I mean, yes, we should celebrate the man, (and in a much quieter voice) just not with time off.” I was less than pleased. She is also our equivalent of the HR department. I am thinking we should apply this thinking to future holidays, and perhaps celebrate from our desks. Or next year I am wearing a shirt on MLK day that says “So long as you don’t think today is worth celebrating and promoting, his dream has not come true.”

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