Happy Monday everyone! Today is a day off for me, along with apparently about 37% of you located in the US, because it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Interestingly I’ve gotten this day off for about 5-10 years now, even though when I first started in the workforce we never had the day off. I decided to learn a bit more about the day, why it’s only recently that I’ve gotten it off, and what’s available to do today with my three boys.
A Bit Of History
Interestingly it seems that this day has a bit of a fraught history. People started petitioning for a day in honor of King’s work shortly after his assassination in 1968. However the holiday wasn’t signed into law until 1983, and it was first celebrated three years later in 1986. A number of states resisted having a day dedicated to King, though, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all states recognized MLK Jr. day as a holiday.
Why did it take so long? You might wonder.
Apparently several North Carolina senators led the charge against the day, alleging among other things that King was not important enough to receive such an honor; that King was associated with Communists; and criticizing his opposition to the Vietnam war. Companies often object to the placement of the holiday, coming so soon after Christmas when many are closed or running on a skeleton crew. Many states didn’t adopt MLK Jr. day as a holiday for years, choosing instead to have And some states still like to combine King’s day with honoring Robert E Lee’s birthday, which just sounds wrong.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Money
Since this is primarily a personal finance site, I decided to go looking for some MLK Jr. money related facts. Turns out I’m not the only one doing this – on Page 1 of the Google search results I found my friend J Money from Budgets are Sexy with an awesome breakdown. Here’s what I found, both in that article and others:
- Apparently King died without financial assets – and without a will
- He had donated what money he had received from his work to the movement
- He’s supposed to be on the $5 bill by around 2020
- He approved of a “Freedom Budget” concept for all Americans, an idea developed in the 60’s and 70’s to “achieve freedom from want”
A Day Of Service
It wasn’t until 1994 that the King holiday became recognized as a day of service, thanks to a movement started by Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, and signed into law by Bill Clinton. This act challenged Americans to use the day to perform volunteer service in honor of the legacy of King.
One thing I’ve noticed since having kids is that it becomes significantly more difficult to do volunteer service. Most volunteer organizations don’t want small children around, and even older children often can’t participate. My oldest son is 14, and despite participating in a number of community service events through Boy Scouts, he’s often not welcomed to volunteer at organizations in town. Most of them don’t allow kids to volunteer until they’re 16 or 18, many due to insurance reasons.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to sit around and do nothing. Even if there are minimal service opportunities, it’s likely that you may have something going on in your state. You just need to seek it out.
Take, for example, where I live in Connecticut. I was checking the site Mommy Poppins and found a great list of things to do this MLK Jr. day with kids. Most of them are free or low cost, and focus on doing service, teaching kids about the life of Martin Luther King Jr, or generally focusing on the message of peace. I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to do some of these today – unfortunately I’ve been under the weather for the past four days, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. But even if I can’t go along, my husband can take the boys.
I’ll make sure the boys understand the history behind the day, and do something in honor of it, instead of just treating it like any other three day weekend.
I Want To Hear From You
What are you doing this MLK Jr. day? Do you get the day off or will you be working? And have you found any good service opportunities with kids? Let me know in the comments!
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