The Rev. Peter Johnson, a Dallas minister who says he marched with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and is now the director of the Texas operations for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says that MLK’s birthday observance holiday is an insult to his legacy. Rev. Johnson feels that the holiday should be on April 4, the anniversary of the date King was assassinated.
I am trying to think when we have ever celebrated the anniversary of someone’s death. Even when there was a holiday for Abraham Lincoln it was celebrated on the anniversary of his birthday, not the anniversary of his death. So now, the Reverend Martin Luther King is the only person to have a national holiday in their honor. No other person in American history has that distinction. We have President’s Day, which is for all presidents, but none of them are celebrated as individuals anymore. And wouldn't you know it, according to Rev. Johnson, it's on the wrong day.
Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed in 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as MLK Day, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed for the first time in all 50 states in 2000.
MLK Day was founded as a holiday promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations. The bill, by Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), was introduced in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday, highlighting King's activism on behalf of trade unionists.
So if I am to understand this correctly, the holiday was introduced and promoted by trade union supporters. I find that very interesting as it appears that this holiday’s genesis was as a bargaining chip in a contract negotiation, not necessarily to honor the work that Dr. King did for civil rights.
Regardless, Rev. Johnson then makes a very revealing comment: "We have ignored the essence of his life and the horror of his death," said Johnson. "We’ve allowed white America to escape the guilt of his assassination and we’ve allowed black America to drift back into a coma."
That comment is revealing in its blatant racism! There is only one person that should feel guilty about his death and that is James Earl Ray. However, Ray is now dead so that leaves no one living to assume the guilt. But Rev. Johnson thinks differently. White America must assume that guilt now.
So, Rev. Johnson, why should I feel guilty about something I didn’t do? And where I have plenty of things about which to feel guilty, MLK’s assassination isn’t one of them. But the reverend wants whites to feel guilty, still, about his death. Perhaps to him, all whites are guilty.
This is the kind of inflammatory crap that gets in the way of Dr. King’s vision of unity. It certainly doesn’t reflect Dr. King’s belief that we should judge a men by the content of their character and not the color of their skin does it?