Is Phoenix Doing Enough to Honor and Celebrate Martin Luther King?
Editor's Note: In the weeks leading up to Martin Luther King Day, we've searched for events happening in Metro Phoenix and came up relatively empty handed. (If you know of interesting and educational MLK celebrations, we encourage you to leave details in the comments section). ASU will host an MLK poster and essay exhibition through January 31 and a rally on January 24, the City of Phoenix will host its annual MLK Breakfast , and Mesa will host a festival at the Mesa Arts Center. But some community members think Phoenix can do more.
via wikimedia King speaking to an anti-Vietnam war rally at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul on April 27, 1967
Ada Martin is an adjunct professor and senior instructional developer at University of Phoenix. She recently made a comment about her own plans for MLK day on Facebook and we asked her to explain.
Monday is Martin Luther King Day in Phoenix and some of you are looking forward to sleeping in, lounging around in your pajamas and catching up on your favorite shows but if you are like me, you are actually looking, or should I say, scrambling for meaningful ways to honor the legacy of Dr. King.
If you live in a big city like San Francisco or New York, consider yourself fortunate because you have something we don't: choices! You probably have an assortment of activities to choose from without having to drive across country to find something worthwhile; but if you live in the state of Arizona, finding meaningful things to do can be like finding car keys in a woman's purse.
via wikimedia King giving a lecture on March 26, 1964
For many of you it will come as no surprise that choices are limited here, as Arizona has always had a hate-hate relationship with the day. Those of you unfamiliar with Phoenix's history with MLK day, in 1983, 15 years after the death of the slain civil rights leader, then-president Ronald Reagan signed federal legislation into effect to create a holiday honoring Dr. King. It was not celebrated officially until January in 1986, and at that time, only 27 states recognized the holiday.
Arizona in particular, thanks to resistance from people such as Arizona Sen. John McCain (who later supported the holiday), is famous for being one of the states that voted against the bill. Finally, in 1992, Arizona did a "solid" and decided that Martin Luther King Jr., a man who sacrificed his life for the betterment of our country, was indeed worthy of having his own day and they officially recognized the holiday.
So, with that in mind, let me share with you my difficulty with celebrating MLK Day in our fair state.
Last year my husband and I got up bright and early eager to celebrate the day, and we researched family friendly MLK events on the web. We live in the West Valley, so the only celebration remotely close to our house was in Phoenix at Margaret T. Hance Park. We packed up the car with our two small children and we started our trek into the city.