MLK Holiday is Observed as “a Day On, Not a Day Off”By Lawayne Childrey | Published 15 Jan 2011 08:02am |
Today millions of Americans including Mississippians are honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering a day of service. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports how the work began for many, decades ago.
After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is now celebrated as a national day of service. But civil rights activist Hezekiah Watkins of Jackson says his service to the country began years ago as a 13 year old freedom rider.
"What I did back in the 60's is totally different from today. They are not going to jail for trying to buy a ticket, they are not going to jail for sitting in because they cannot buy a hamburger. The bigotry and everything else is still here. It's just not being shown as it was back then."
During an MLK celebration in Vicksburg, award winning Journalist Howard Ballou reflected on his mothers extraordinary service as Dr. Kings secretary during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
"She had an experience herself where she was asked to get off the bus because she didn't sit in the proper seat. So I think that was the catalyst for her to get involved.
While race relations have dramatically improved, Ballou believes there is still more to be done. And he says a recent email response to a party reservation that ended up in news headlines reminds us why.
"Quote, another ghetto Saturday party. They really love us don't they especially on Saturday. Call her and get her on the books and I will take care of the rest. You know, it seems sometimes that we take one step forward and another back but I'm an optimist and I believe we've taken giant leaps forward."
"We heard from people of the past about the struggles that they went through and some of those struggles have been overcome and some haven't.
Drew Bonner is an 18 year old volunteer with Americorps.
"Our goal is to continue to work towards justice and not only look at our own wants and our own needs but to look at the bigger needs of the community."
MLK is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.
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