"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
What's with the bitching about schools using the holiday as a snow makeup day? It has to happen sometime, and they'd whine even more (and it would be much less practical) if it was on a Saturday. Our public schools are behind the rest of the world enough as it is. If you really want to honor Dr. King, making him a vehicle for helping keep education on track seems to be on the mark to me.
This is another day that gets clusterfrackked up here in some parts of the south. If someone isn't peeved because it's not being observed the way they want, some other dweeb is getting his nads in a knot because anyone is observing it at all. If I spoke to some of my relatives today, at least a couple of them wouldn't be able to have a conversation without getting a plug in for their disgust at, as one of them so trashily puts it, "Big Nigger Day". I don't go to family reunions for a reason. But these (alleged) people, who would like to see groups who've been denied the same rights and privileges given to others put back in our boxes, are the best illustration of why I think showing up at school when you weren't supposed to have to is a damn good way to honor King.
Racism, sexism, and other various bigoted isms aren't dead on any side. We all still have a load of growing up to do. The ball's just gotten rolling on fairness for GLBT peeps. Some of the jerks running loose who think black people, Native Americans, and/or women shouldn't be allowed to go to school, handle their own legal affairs, or vote aren't the Old Guard; they're an up and coming Bigot Brigade. As long as they have money and can stir up resentment and factionalism, it's not impossible for progress against that kind of thinking to be overturned. We need symbols that invoke the preservation and furthering of that progress.
MLK Day isn't just remembering a guy who had the cojones to stand up for people; it's reminding ourselves to not take what we've gained for granted.