Next Year Can We Have A.Philip Randolph and Fannie Lou Hamer Day Instead?

Not that we shouldn’t honor the life of MLK Jr., but is the reason that he gets the day instead of people like A. Philip Randolph and Fannie Lou Hamer because he’s more palatable to white sensibilities?

As much of a player in the Civil Rights Movement as MLK Jr. was, lots of other people died. So why isn’t there a Medgar Evers or Emmett Till Day? Malcolm X Day?

Sometimes the “Great Man” theory of history really fits…Alexander the Great…Charlemagne…Martin Luther.

Other times something else is needed, closer to the treatment that the “Founding Fathers” get. (Yet many of them get the Great Man treatment)

But when we’re talking about something like civil rights, something that has such a long arc, why put all of the focus on that one man? Doesn’t that ignore the people and the work that made him possible?

5 thoughts on “Next Year Can We Have A.Philip Randolph and Fannie Lou Hamer Day Instead?

  1. Or even, we could argue, a Robert Williams day (he has Unitarian connections as well!). Actually thinking about it, the NRA should be a very strong supporter of a Robert Williams day. But, as for another Civil Rights Holiday, it wasn’t until 2000, that Virginia had a separate MLK day (before he shared the State Holiday with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson!) Here in 2012, we have current Presidential candidates who downplay the civil rights era and feel that we never should have had the voting rights acts, because ” it wasn’t legal and wasn’t needed.” I still hear folks wanting to eliminate MLK day, as unlikely as that is.
    People are just now starting to have King Day sales, but so far no “I have a dream” sales — I wonder if a better way to memorialize is by supporting the civil rights museums, and the better civil rights websites. I recall being with a group at the Birmingham museum, and having the younger (under 30!) folks just astounded by what they saw. I recall just ten years ago, someone then 40 being flabbergasted at seeing a doctor’s office with two waiting rooms, the fuse box still proclaiming white and colored.

  2. Steven, in Arkansas, for the first few years of the King holiday, state employees could get the day off, but they had to specify, on paper, whether they were celebrating for Lee or King. Mike Huckabee, who was a pretty good guy for a right-wing Republican, eventually did away with that.

  3. Excellent post. With all due respect to MLK, he really ought to be a metonym for the Civil Rights movement (or, even more broadly, for African-Americans, nonviolent resistance, or the struggle for justice and equality). Just as–I’m in California–Cesar Chavez Day is about celebrating workers’ rights, Mexican-American, and Latin American culture; and the (proposed) Harvey Milk Day is about LGBT rights; and the Fourth of July is about the United States of America, not just the signing of the Declaration of Independence; and all of these days are about learning all of our history and celebrating all of our people.

    And of course, none of these things should be relegated to one day or month. Christians celebrate Christ all year long–Christmas is just one holy day. I would love to devote a service to Fannie Lou Hamer.

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