Jenna Stephens—Staff Writer
He had a dream. He dreamt that one day the nation would live out the creed that all men are created equal. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped lead a movement that brought significant change to our nation and formed a foundation for countless movements to come.
Although Dordt’s campus was closed on the official holiday, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 15. Each year, this holiday honors the life and achievements of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., remembers a painful past and brings issues of inequality to the forefront of society. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation in 1983 to make the third Monday of January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday.
“But traces of bigotry still mar America,” remarked Reagan upon signing the bill. “So, each year on Martin Luther King Day, let us not only recall Dr. King, but rededicate ourselves to the Commandments he believed in and sought to live every day: Thou shall love thy God with all thy heart, and thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.”
This bill was not drawn up overnight. It came out of a fifteen-year struggle to get it on the calendar, signed only after mounting public pressure, petitions and marches born from the Civil Rights Movement.
This trend of movements, once led by King, continues today nearly 50 years after his assassination. The list of recent ones is extensive: Black Lives Matter, Animal Rights, Anti-Bullying, Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, #MeToo. These movements have affected the U.S. and the world both positively and negatively. In some cases, they created unity, and in others, divided friends and family. Sometimes they saved lives, and other times they swapped out successful careers for court appearances. No matter their outcomes, one concept is seen over and over: movements cause change.
“Not only do they empower people that don’t necessarily have a voice to have more of a voice, but I also think it raises awareness for the rest of the public,” said senior Leah Breon. “I think especially in today’s society, with mass media and the internet, movements have more of an impact.”
On Feb. 2, Dordt’s campus again celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and his work in the Civil Rights Movement. The film Hidden Figures (2016) was shown on campus, followed by a brief discussion. This film tells the untold true story of three African-American mathematicians who worked at NASA and served a vital role in the Space Race. These women crossed lines of gender and race, a relevant topic as we observe King’s activism in the Civil Rights Movement and acknowledge the many movements occurring around the world today.
In addition to the film, banners designed by Dordt students were posted around 55th Avenue to commemorate King.
Breon sees importance in celebrating this holiday. “It’s so central to how our country has been able to bounce back from our less than ideal past,” she said. “And I think it shows how we should accept and empower the diverse cultures in our nation which I think is something that is pretty foundational to who we are.”