How to celebrate MLK day

By Hayley Nagelberg, Columnist

Syllabus week is never as relaxing as it is made out to be. Maybe some professors spend a day talking about a syllabus, maybe some spend ten minutes outlining the semester, others sent you the course expectations before the semester began in order jump right into lecture. In any case, by the end of this first week back to school it already feels like we’ve been in the routine of classes for awhile. Homework exists, meetings are in full swin g, and you’re already ready for a break.

Then you remember there’s no classes on Monday.

One option is to celebrate this singular day off. You can procrastinate the work you know you have for this weekend, go out and have fun with your friends you didn’t see over break, sleep in Monday and just enjoy.

But that is not what this upcoming Monday is for.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed the third Monday of every January. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not observed officially by all 50 states until 2000, despite Ronald Reagan signing it into law in 1983.

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Before the day was signed into law, there was a vote lost by five votes in 1979. The reasons people voted against the law then were that having a paid day off for federal employees would cost too much money, or that since he never held a political office it would go against national tradition.

However, in 1981, after the Rally for Peace Press Conference and the collection of six million individual signatures to pass this law, momentum carried.

Today, there are numerous states and universities, including this University, that mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with days of service.

This year, the University’s  of Illinois’ MLK Day of Service is titled “Lead, Challenge, Impact.” The Office of Volunteer Programs states that, “MLK Day of Service is an opportunity for students to learn about the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the impact he made throughout the country and around the world.”

There are times on campus that the academics can be overwhelming, unmotivating and frustrating. There is good reason to want to engage in pursuits away from learning.

Dr. King is quoted for his own definition for education. He said, “The function of education is to reach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” This Monday, we should take the time to work on our character.

While it could be easier to celebrate this one day we have free from school between now and Spring break, the opportunity to spend even part of our day giving back to this campus and community is far more valuable.

Hayley is a senior in ACES.

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