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What Does Martin Luther King Jr. Day Mean to You?

Is it a day to celebrate, a day to give back or the last day of a long weekend?

Monday, Jan. 21, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

For some, it is a day to honor the prominent civil rights activist by giving back to the community, like these opportunities chronicled in Athens Patch and Oconee Patch.

For others, it is a day of celebration, a way to celebrate the unity in the community, like the second annual

And for others, it is the final day on a long weekend and an opportunity for a day off work.

So which is it for you? A day to give back, a day to celebrate or the last day of a vacation weekend?

A little history, courtesy of Wheaton Patch

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, now a U.S. holiday, took 15 years to create. Legislation was first proposed by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) four days after King was assassinated in 1968.

The bill was stalled, but Conyers, along with Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-New York), pushed for the holiday every legislative session until it was finally passed in 1983, following civil rights marches in Washington. 

Then-president Ronald Reagan signed it into law. Yet it was not until 2000 that every U.S. state celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by its name. Before then, states like Utah referred to the holiday more broadly as Human Rights Day. 

Now, the Corporation for National and Community Service has declared it an official U.S. Day of Service.

Vanzetta Evans (Editor) January 18, 2013 at 03:08 PM
I will be walking in Lawrenceville's MLK Day parade for the first time. I may go do a roadside cleanup beforehand, depending on how my alarm works.
George Wilson January 18, 2013 at 04:44 PM
On the eve of the celebration of Martin L. King's birthday I was thinking about the state of the Republican Party. I have a dream. That one day a new Republican party will immerge and is based in reality. A group of people who actually believe in science and effective governance instead of being obstructionists and anti-intellectual. A party that does not believe in curtailing voting rights through racial gerrymandering and voter ID. .A party that reject the old Jim Crow ideas of the south and once again becomes a national party. A political base not controlled by religous extremists that believes in justice for all, not just Christians. A new party that admits the failure of the drug war that imprisons non violent people especially minorities. A party that will rise up against the special like interests like Grover Norquist and the NRA.and say thank god we are free at last. I may be delusional but all of you Republicans can hope
RL January 18, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Just can't let go, can you George?
Lisa Mende January 18, 2013 at 05:52 PM
George, no reason to let your beliefs "go" nor should you RL, the beauty of our country, one of the beauties is to have the ability to voice our opinions,
Joy L. Woodson January 18, 2013 at 05:52 PM
It's a day on, not a day off... And, to that end, I'm pulling together a group of volunteers to delivery meals to the elderly and homebound on Monday with Project Open Hand.
David Brown January 18, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Joy, it's off the chain hearing from you again! I've missed your perspective on things. Take care and God bless you.:)
Joy L. Woodson January 18, 2013 at 06:17 PM
@David, Thanks bunches! "Off the chain..." ROFL. Hope all is well with you, too!
Elizabeth January 18, 2013 at 11:49 PM
It's a chance to share a history lesson with your kids.
Rogers Lackey January 19, 2013 at 12:59 AM
President Regan did not sign the bill,it went into law without him sigining the bill.Please check your facts before printing.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) January 19, 2013 at 01:16 AM
Rogers, What is your source stating that Reagan did not sign the bill? Everything I searched for says he did and there is a picture in this archive photo from the White House of Reagan signing it with Coretta Scott King standing beside him: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/13/archives-president-reagan-designates-martin-luther-king-jr-day-federal-holiday
Rogers Lackey January 19, 2013 at 01:34 AM
NBC,ABC,CBS 1983-He was playing both sides so he would look good for history.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) January 19, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Can you cite a specific story? I've Googled, asked older journalists across the country and found nothing backing your claim.
Tim January 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM
MLK sure can give inspirational speeches, I enjoy them. Reminds me of when my Granddad used to preach at our country church.....can I get an Amen?
Ben January 19, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Did you know Martin Luther King was a Republican, Look it up in History.
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Vanzetta, I was of age (21) when Reagan signed that bill. We didn't have an internet that people can look up anything true or not, just real life watching it happen - lol. Unlike George, I don't look at this day from a political point of view. I look at it as a day when the original words of our founders, as they got the vision for our country " all men are created equal" came to pass. As Herman Cain says, the vision was greater than fallen man, and we were not perfect when it was given, but have had many years to grow into it. I was a young white girl in the 60's Atlanta, and was a part of the changes taking place in our world. In 30-40 years, I've watched the attitudes of white American change and embrace the original notion. Now it is a rare thing to see true descrimination, although there are many who still want to stir things up. Quite a turn around. I've watched prosperity come for anyone who wants to work hard for it. I am, however, saddened that many of the scars are still there for black America as I note people that continue to be suspicious of mine and the motives of others. My being friendly has nothing to do with anything but trying to get to know someone. Just as it took a long time for white America to embrace the change, I believe that black America is still coming into the healing that is taking place until we finally get to the promised land that MLK saw. As far as politics, I believe politics has slowed down that process tremendously.
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 02:40 PM
ben, I believe most of his family still is.
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Ben, this is a good site, www.nbra.com (National Black Republican Association). These folks represent the many blacks who are conservative. They are qualified to speak on why they are conservative and have some good, well thought out arguments based on their experiences. Here is a list of articles and videos on their site. First Blacks in Congress – All Republicans (Complete List) Historical Black Republican leaders - Photos Black Republican Leaders Today - Photos NBRA History Test Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican Information - NBRA Civil Rights Newsletter To see the entire legal brief of Rev. Wayne Perryman’s lawsuit against the Democratic Party for that party’s 200-hundred history of racism, for which they have never apologized, click here. "Republicans and Democrats Did Not Switch Sides On Racism" by Frances Rice “Here Come the Closet Black Conservatives” by Pat Austin “Runaway Slave - The Movie” Video: Runaway Slave Video: A Pebble In My Shoe Video: Republican Party Civil Rights Legacy Video: Wayne Perryman: The Republican Party - The Party of Freedom and Equality for Black Americans Video: Ron Parks - Black History Month
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 03:48 PM
OOps. www.nbra.info/
David Brown January 19, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Tammy, I have Black Republican friends. I love them dearly. But, their perspective represents less than 10% of Black folks in this country. I realize that my white conservative friends wish that percentage was higher.
David Brown January 19, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Tammy, your comment above shows that Blacks and whites live in two different worlds and view things through different lenses.
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that we talk about real issues with no clouds of agenda or connected to them. It's refreshing. My friends can't bring themselves to follow a party that goes against thier personal convictions, which I think should guide everyone. As a christian, I cannot believe that God would put His blessing on a party that supports killing a child as it is coming out of the womb. In fact, I believe we'll be judged for that. To each his own, but I think the number is higher than you think. And as far as white conservatives, we don't always think in political terms, contrary to what you have been told. :)
David Brown January 19, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Tammy, it is a fact that the percentage of Black voters who have voted for the Republican Presidential candidate has declined each year since 1964. As far as being pro-life goes, I am pro-life not just for the pre-born, but for the post-born as well. Considering the tons of Bible verses that show God's concern about the poor and injustice, God will judge us for how we treat the poor and immigrants, to name a few. To be pro-life for the pre-born, but insouciant toward the post-born is having an inconsistent values system.
thcooper69 January 19, 2013 at 07:14 PM
in maine its extra chocalate milk day ,the schools give 2 extra for frreee
Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Well david, you're welcome to your convictions. I support both too. Once an innocent life is snuffed out (he/she is dead-who has the right to decide who lives or dies?). At least the postborn got to experience life. It's biblical to care for the poor and be against injustice, but also against the taking of innocent life. I can't ignore that. There is scripture that actually states the exact words that He will judge it. The bible is talking to christians, not the government. In fact, we can do as the Romans do, unless the government tells us to do something against our convictions towards God, then to stand against it to the death if necessary. As far as my political beliefs, to free up enterprise so that all have equal opportunity means that there are less people on welfare and more likely to keep a family together. It needs to be only for those who truly need it without rewarding those who abuse it (have democrats tried to fixc that lately?). Penalizing people for being married is rather ungodly to me. We'll always have big corporations and unjust people, but in the end, did we do all we could without compromising our convictions and our faith? As far as blacks voting republican, I'd have to ask you to do some research to see which presidents they were better off under. You'd be surprised at the results. The unjustness under MLK was legitimate. Would say more but would rather have this conversation on a different post, so as to stay respectful of the subject matter.
John Henderson January 19, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Ronald Reagan signed the bill, I was actually present theat day. But Vazetta you have to take Rogers Lackey insistence with a grain of salt in the 'if its on the internet it must be true." just insert "if sean hannity said it, it must be true."
David Brown January 19, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Tammy, a definitive passage on God's perspective is Matthew 25:31-46. There Jesus made it clear that we will be judged according to how we treat the poor and the stranger (immigrant). You're right that those verses are speaking to Christians.
thcooper69 January 20, 2013 at 03:01 PM
what it means to me is a day of no shananigans on da freeways ,city skreets ect . when u travel to work on this day and back home u finnaly realize ,WHO is causin all tha real problems . some things u mis on this day is when u come up to an intersection someone who is sittin in tha left hand turn lane with there blinker on to turn left is now wanting to go to tha right as THAY do this causing accidents and slowing down traffiks . u wont be seeing any u turns across 9 lanes of traffiks ,involvin all us normal drivers who go to an intersection an use an turn signal . the fas lane is wide open to use as intended ,theres KNOWONE in it on there cellphone driving 20 under tha speed limit impeding the flow of traffiks ccausing conjestion . when u come up to any 1st theree exits off any freeway leading outside of 285 u wont see any drivers in tha fas lane 20 yards prior to exits try to merge across 10 lanes jus to get to there exits causing accidents imepDing tha flow of traffiks and cloggin up da freeways ,like when a tiolet backs up !.yes indeedy i enjoy my mlk days and relish themb ! traffiks drives in at tha normal speed of 120 on I-20 ,JUS LIKE THA RAPPER LUDA SINGS MOVE B, {this is a rap tune about drivin on I-20} .
Tammy Osier January 21, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Coop got into the moonshine again...
Good Grief Y'all January 21, 2013 at 04:09 PM
I heard a great sermon yesterday on the civil rights movement and Dr. MLK,Jr. My minister grew up in the 50s and 60s during segregation. He said many believe we should be color blind, seek to come to the point where we don't see skin color, that that is the destination of the struggle for human rights for all. And, yet, he disagrees somewhat, saying we should celebrate the differences God created, see and appreciate them, not look past them, not blur them into one generic melting pot of humanity.
r patton March 25, 2013 at 03:49 PM
As I do admire Dr. King and his approach to change. Most of the people under the age of 40 have no idea how tough Dr. King had it trying to make it better, not for himself but for everyone. It is sad to say, most of the 40 and under (I said MOST), have no idea what is going on with the good things and advancements Dr. King made and they don't see it as they are caught up in their daily lives and THAT is what they care about. And before you start yelling "How do you know", I have seen Dr. King, in person, and listened to what he had to say and supported his ideas and values. Oh, one other item for you non-beleivers, I am white.

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