As an organization dedicated to supporting children and families in crisis, we recognize that holidays can be a delicate and nuanced time for many. In this series, Purposeful Perspectives, we asked our staff members to select a season, month, or day that is meaningful to them to share with our CASA community. Thank you for joining us as we take a deeper look behind the celebrations that fill our lives.

What the King Holiday Means to Me
By Ewansiha Simmons

Growing up as a child, I distinctly remember the excitement when the federal government added a holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest and most significant Americans in history. As a young boy, seeing one of our Black heroes who fought and advocated for the civil rights and equality of Black people recognized and honored was monumental. It inspired me to always advocate for the rights of Black people and others treated unjustly. Dr. King sacrificed his life for his beliefs and was subject to investigations and harassment for most of his adult life because of his work to change unfair laws, destroy the racial caste system of Jim Crow, and demand equality for all people in the United States and around the world.

As a personal hero of mine, I chose to attend Dr. King’s alma mater of Morehouse College in part because I thought it would help prepare me to be a man of substance and high character. Celebrating Dr. King each year is a great honor for me and for many other Americans. I am thankful for all who are faithful to Dr. King’s work and choose not to misuse his legacy and words to advance causes and ideals that are antithetical to what he believed and stood for. The holiday is frequently used as a day of service in the community, and this is the best way to honor Dr. King as he always worked to help others in whatever way he could. The opportunity to help continue his legacy to lift the disadvantaged and fight against poverty, injustice and inequality is just as important today as when the holiday started in 1983.

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
March for Integrated Schools, April 18, 1959.
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