CAROL VOIGTS: Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be celebrated in area schools

TO THE EDITOR:

I am again saddened that none of the Manistee area schools have chosen to mark the national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

As you well know, Martin Luther King Jr. was more than a leader of the national civil rights non-violent movement, he was a leader in working to achieve rights, privileges, pride and humanity in all of America’s walks of life. He spoke for the poor; he spoke for the working class. He spoke for those denied their rightful place in our society. He spoke for rights for all citizens of our United States.

This holiday is not a holiday marking some African-American who has no connection to Manistee. And we are not an “all-white” community that has no connection to MLK either. We are a union town too. Are you aware that King was assassinated speaking out not on civil rights but on union issues in Memphis, Tenn., working for the Sanitation Workers’ Strike?

King believed that the struggle in Memphis exposed the need for economic equality and social justice that he hoped his Poor People’s Campaign would highlight nationally. What better ideals to instill in our young people than respect for economic equality and social justice than to celebrate him.

I ask why we in the Manistee County schools, have chosen to ignore this holiday? It’s not that we haven’t had significant African Americans among us — people like James Earl Jones and his whole family here in the eastern part of our county, or our illustrious Ray and Anna Mae Smith family, including noted playwright Lois Smith Owen, or some of our younger African American ingenues who are well-known and hail from here as they are achieving deserving national recognition.

This holiday should NOT be a bargaining chip for snow day accumulations. It is far more important than that. It is a time to teach our children about what’s important in a society — humanity — all of us. Give our children these values. Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and all it stands for. Nothing could be more important!

Carol Voigts

Wellston

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