Monday, January 15, 2007

How about a day to celebrate all civil rights in general?

Why do we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday?

Because he was a reknowned civil rights leader. Because he was black.

Why is there no Susan B. Anthony day? Why is there no Elizabeth Cady Stanton day? Both women founded the women's suffrage movement. Are the civil rights of women less important than those civil rights of people of color?

Why were George Washington's birthday and Abraham Lincoln's birthday lumped into one and renamed President's day? George Washington was a great general, he was the father of our country and Abraham Lincoln? Well he certainly led America through it's worst years, during a war where brother fought against brother.

Why no holidays for other great Americans? Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, he was President, Governor, he founded the Library of Congress, he was President of the University of Virginia. The man was a genius.

Oh but he owned slaves. Personally I believe the man was tortured internally on the issue of slavery. But that's for another day. You can't deny the man was a great part of our country's history.

But we can't celebrate his birthday you see because he owned slaves.

Oh but what about Dr. King? An adulterer, ties with communist groups, a plagiarist? That's ok?

Now I have nothing against Dr. King although I have no respect for his family the way they have used his name to make a fortune. But I really need to know something. Why is it that we have a holiday to celebrate his birthday but we have no holidays to celebrate the birthdays of other great Americans? Dr. King's movement towards civil rights is admirable, but the man was by no means better (or worse) than some of our other great Americans.

A 1991 article in the Journal of American History reported that "plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic writings" including his doctoral dissertation.

His famous "I have a dream" speech has been disputed to be partly borrowed from another individual, a black preacher named Archibald Carey, Jr. who was a friend of MLK's and is rumored to have let MLK borrow the idea of the speech. However, no credit is given to Mr. Carey who gave his version of the speech at the 1952 Republican National Convention.

The end of King's speech reads:

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Carey's speech ended with:

We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: My country 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrims' pride From every mountainside Let freedom ring!That's exactly what we mean--from every mountain side, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia--let it ring not only for the minorities of the United States, but for the disinherited of all the earth--may the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside, LET FREEDOM RING!

Dr. King was also under FBI surveillance for years because of his ties to communist organizations. He accepted money from them to further his cause. A federal judge ruled in the 1960s that the King file should remain top secret until 2027.

He also had several extramarital affairs.

This is the man whose birthday we honor above all others who have done great things for America. I am not saying the civil rights cause wasn't just, in fact it was. Thanks to civil rights I can vote in America and I am thankful for that. But for this country to take a day off to celebrate the tainted life of one man when so many who came before him had such a tremendous impact on civil rights as well, is ludicrous.

A day to honor civil rights and all those who fought bravely for them should be established to replace Dr. King's birthday and it should be called "American Civil Rights Day" . That would be fine with me because it would incorporate the many great Americans who fought for our civil rights, not just one man. But you won't see a day to honor any white men or women who have fought for our civil rights, and God knows there have been many. Because when you think of civil rights, you are supposed to think of anyone who is considered non-white. In order to appease a certain segment of the population in this country, the federal government strong-armed the states into adopting Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday to honor civil rights.

I'm certainly not taking anything away from Dr. King's contribution to the civil rights movement, but one man did not do it all by himself.


  1. Here here Chickie! While I definitely think that some of MLK's achievements are incredibly notable and I certainly don't want to seem like I think they weren't, I don't think he's the only person that should get a day for it! I would much rather celebrate Civil Rights day than MLK day.

  2. OMG, I SO agree with you.The only reason MLK has a day named after him is because our government feels the need to placate the blacks. Why else would they also rename every main street in America after him?? Now, you know I'm not a racist by any means, but this just ain't kosher. If we had a national holiday proclaimed for every great american, we working class folk would be off 3/4 of the year!