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The recent Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 21 is a hugely significant day for Americans, and for many seniors especially, it holds importance for lots of different reasons. Not only is it a public holiday, and therefore a day to enjoy spending time with family and loved ones, but it is also a day to reflect on our nation’s history and how far the country has come. Many seniors might be asking themselves what they can do mark the day, or what is in their power to continue the work of Martin Luther King, even in a small way.

History of Martin Luther King Day

It goes without saying that Martin Luther King is an extremely important figure in the United States of America’s history. His work for the African-American community in the United States during the civil rights movement in the 1960s transformed race relations in the US and paved the way for huge changes in society, some of which are still being made, and some of which have still yet to happen.

After he died in 1968, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a federal holiday to honor him and his legacy. The bill eventually became law in 1983, with the first official holiday being observed in 1986, making Martin Luther King Day a relatively new federal holiday, officially being held annually on the third Monday of January each year. It is worth noting that in some states the day has slightly different names, such as Civil Rights day, King Day, and Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day, but essentially the purpose, aim and philosophy remain the same.

The aim of the day is to celebrate and promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Since we still have such a long way to go to achieve equal rights for every American and eliminate racial prejudice once and for all, the day is absolutely crucial in 2019.

Some local federations encourage people to use the day to participate in activism and volunteering to better the community. Activists support this and want more people to use the day to fight against racial injustice in America’s justice system and beyond. In some states schools are closed for the day, allowing students to choose how they honor the day, whilst others remain open and teach their students about the work of Martin Luther King and hold celebrations and concerts to bring students together.

How Seniors Commemorate Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day is often particularly important to seniors, and many wonder what role they can play and what they can do to pay tribute to Dr King.

Most seniors remember well the fight for equality and justice that occurred during civil rights movement in the 1960s, led by Martin Luther King. Despite there being dedicated curriculum in schools to teach children about the civil rights movement in, it’s only the older generation of American citizens who can remember what it actually felt like to live during the time of racial segregation.

This means seniors have an important role to play in the modern day fight for equality in educating and influencing younger generations. Having lived through the eras of injustice of racial discrimination, seniors can use this first-hand knowledge to help to educate younger people by sharing their experiences and personal history.

Often schools will put a call out to older people who have experience of what life was like before the Civil Rights Act came in, to come and talk in classes and workshops. This is an opportunity to sign up and use your valuable knowledge and experience to make a difference.

Those who enjoyed a day with their loved ones whilst not at school or work, when gathering the family together might use it as a chance to share their collective experiences and thoughts on what has changed and what still needs to be done to make Martin Luther King’s dream a true reality.

Inspiring the children and adolescents of today’s America ensures that the civil rights movement lives on and racial injustice in modern day America will one day be abolished once and for all. So, speak to your children, speak to your grandchildren, tell your stories and experiences of the struggle for social justice in America.

Remember that Martin Luther King Day is a day to reflect on the progress that’s already been made, and the progress that is currently in the works. It’s vital to remember his legacy and continue his fight, which every American has a role to play in.