MLK’s Legacy and its Impact on Current Racial Justice

Pavle Ristic, Sports Editor

MLK Day is observed in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is a federal holiday on the third Monday in January, celebrating his undying passion and activism in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The long fight to remember his legacy has been etched into American history, and his message still rings in the hearts of millions.

   Today, Dr. King is seen as a national hero and a champion of civil rights, but there was a period of time when many Americans rejected his contributions to United States history. According to the History Channel’s website, the first push for a federal holiday in honor of Dr. King was proposed four days after his assasination in 1968, but the idea didn’t gain traction. After many attempts to have the holiday written into law, the first MLK Day was finally celebrated in 1986, a whole 18 years after Dr. King’s death (

   Although MLK Day was officially celebrated on a federal level in 1986, many states did not officially celebrate Dr. King; instead, some states celebrated Confederate Leader Robert E. Lee, who was born on January 19. According to an Arizona news station, Arizona had the most notable fight against the holiday. As a result of the state’s resistance, many artists boycotted the state, costing Arizona millions in possible investments. Arizona finally moved to recognize the holiday after the National Football League pulled the Super Bowl from the state. From 1993 on, MLK Day has been celebrated in Arizona with the rest of the United States (

   Today, the Black Lives Matter [BLM] movement is a continuation of the fight for equality and fair treatment for African-Americans first organized by Dr. King in the form of the Civil Rights Movement, continuing his fight from over 50 years ago. States’ refusal to celebrate Dr. King until as recently as 20 years ago is part of the reason for the continued fight for equality in the United States, according to The Spectator (

   MLK Day is of great cultural importance, bringing generations of equality-seekers together for a special day of reflection and perseverance. In a USA Today article, participants of the Civil Rights Movement commented on what is happening with BLM. “What’s amazing to me is these young people who are the age we were.You see the same passion and that same sense that they really do believe they can change things,” said Civil Rights Activist Judy Richardson, 76, who worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi from 1963 to 1966.

   Many young people understand the importance of Dr. King’s legacy. Junior Amadu Tadesse is an African-American, and MLK Day is one of his favorite holidays. “MLK Day means so much to not only African-Americans to all people, because it shows that change is possible. Although there is still a lot more work to be done, it is possible for everyone to be a part of a movement and to make a real impact,” Tadesse shared.

   Ultimately, Dr. King’s legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of many, preserving his position as an American hero for generations to come.