MLK Day vs. Equality Day


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Martin Luther King Jr. giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington DC. He preached racial equality to a crowd of 250,00 people.

Steph Sommer, Feature's Editor

Every third Monday in January, Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights activist who was shot in 1968. In 49 states, this federal holiday is explicitly referred to as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but here in Wyoming the holiday is called Equality Day.

It took 10 years for Wyoming to originally accept Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday, but with the help of Wyoming Senator Harriet Elizabeth (Liz) Byrd- the first African-American woman to serve in both houses of government they eventually accepted it as a holiday. Wyoming accepted it on one condition-

It had to be called Equality Day.

This idea does go somewhat against what the original purpose of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was. Its original purpose was to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and commemorate his original dream, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He preached equality no matter the color of someone’s skin, and fair opportunities for all races.

By just dubbing this day “Equality Day,” Wyoming draws attention away from Martin Luther King Jr.’s original intent to end racism. If Equality Day fully encompasses equality, it would focus on equality of not only race but also gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other traits. However, since Wyoming’s original purpose of adopting the holiday as Equality Day was a compromise and was never explicitly stated, it is not known if the purpose was to actually celebrate equality for all.

If it is going to be called Equality day, it should be made to encompass all forms of equality. There are other days that involve equality, such as June 26, the day same-sex marriage was legalized in the US. Americans also celebrate Women’s Equality Day on August 26, the anniversary when Women were granted the right to vote. It seems strange to celebrate different type’s diversity, why should the day that celebrates race equality be replaced by an all-encompassing equality day?

There is not a need for a mass holiday, but rather we should stick to recognizing individual days to celebrate being unique. Each form of equality should be granted its own day. By having individual days that celebrate different forms of diversity, equality becomes truly equal.