One of my pet peeves has been the recent push to turn Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a generic national “Day of Service.” It annoys me not because I hate volunteerism (volunteering is great!) but because we all know damn well Martin Luther King didn’t live his life under threat of death constantly to eventually die from an assassin’s bullet because he wanted to paint poor people’s houses on weekends. No, he died for the long-denied rights of black people. We need to #ReclaimMLK, and I wasn’t alone in these thoughts.
Martin Luther King Jr. had more than “a dream,” but you might not notice that on Monday during observances for his birthday.
Somewhere between his assassination and today began an MLK-neutering campaign meant to turn the famed agitator’s holiday into a national Day of Service, a generic mishmash of good feelings that contorts King’s social-justice legacy into a blissful Hallmark card of post-racial nothingness.
This has not gone unnoticed, from scholar Cornel West—who has pushed back against the “Santa Clausification” of King—to the #ReclaimMLK campaign, currently being spearheaded by young activists involved in the Black Lives Matter campaign. Many realize it’s time to stand up for what King actually stood for before his entire legacy is retconned into some “Chicken Soup for the SoulBrother,” feel-good tripe.
“It’s been co-opted,” said Alicia Garza, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter. “People want to neutralize it.”
I wanted to go in even more (because this REALLY IRRITATES ME), but I try to keep my posts around 800 words when I write for other folks. So enjoy the rest of the rant at The Root.