By Izhaan Ahmed
The NHP community recently observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the overlapping No Name-Calling Week during the middle of January, with both events communicating an essential message of intolerance, equality and love.
The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first floated by labor unions and their leaders shortly after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. King had expressed a great deal of support for labor unions in his speeches, since he and the organizations both had a shared goal of spreading principles of equality and fairness. Despite the major development in its inclusion in a bill that had reached the House of Representatives, these plans ultimately failed due to concern over the plausibility of starting the new holiday, losing by five votes.
Artwork by Rachel Houng
Martin Luther King Jr. is an inspiration to many different groups of people with his peaceful approach towards protests.
However, in the late ‘70s, a more democratic approach was used to vouch for the holiday; a petition of 6 million signatures fought for the concept of a holiday celebrating the American symbol, and the paperwork for the holiday was completed and signed in 1981.
“Martin Luther King Jr. day finally becoming a federal holiday was an important moment for our country because of his importance as a role model and advocate. His memory as a civil rights leader who based his protests against racism and racial segregation in our country is something that many people in our country look up to, and honoring that by making this an official holiday allows us to remember all he did, and continue to expand his efforts as a nation,” junior Madison Reilly said.
King’s philosophy, message of fairness and tolerance resonated deeply with the American people. His legendary “I Have A Dream” speech during a D.C. protest, which evoked historical analogies to communicate the graveness of segregation and the potential for freedom, has become a textbook example of a quintessential historical document. Further, his stalwart and fiery rhetoric contributed greatly to the evolution of conversation regarding social issues in the ‘60s along with major speakers such as Malcolm X. The essence of what he communicated helped to provoke action aimed at extinguishing inequality for decades to come.
Inspired by the same principles that Dr. King spent a lifetime to preach, an organization known as GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) conceived No Name-Calling Week. Through this week, students aspire to end name-calling and bullying in schools through compassion.
The messages of both of these celebrations have found a way into the doors of NHP. Public service announcements celebrating both holidays helped to play a vital role in allowing the powerful and true morals of King and those that he had inspired to become ingrained in the school.
“While no name-calling is something to be expected from the student body at all times, I think of this week similarly to how the winter holiday season reminds us to be grateful for family in that it's a great way to honor the legacy of MLK by spreading a message of kindness and acceptance,” senior Anitta Kottai said.
Although not everyone spends the day celebrating the life and philosophy of King or reading up on the sociological effects of bullying, celebrating these holidays allows for a reminder of the vital principles that he fought for.