Mountain Home takes MLK Jr. Day off

Brianna Ifland, Writer, Co-Editor

Dr. King once said, “Mother Dear, one day I’m going to turn this world upside down.”

And turn the world he did. Every third Monday of every January, Americans across the country observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. King was a famous activist, the face of the civil rights movement, and an American Baptist pastor.

King Leads the March to Washington (image source: History.com)

His Life and Work

Born in Atlanta in 1929, King was the eldest of three children. He earned a Bachelor of the Arts in Sociology (Morehouse College), a Bachelor’s Degree in Divinity (Crozer Theological Seminary), and a Doctorate in Systematic Theology (1955- Boston University). 

However, he was still a Black man in Jim Crow America. Despite being highly educated and successful, he was still seen as inferior by many. Laws separating restaurants, bathrooms, schools, transportation, etc. allowed for reminders of people of colors’ inferiority to seep into daily life. 

“[My family and I] were in Arkansas for a while [over the summer in the 50s],” says 83-year-old Joan Ifland, who was in her early adulthood during the Civil Rights movement. “…They had signs up of whites-only to drink out of the fountain and one of them said blacks only… We thought it was rather silly that they would have signs out there like that… You can go and wear the same clothes as anybody else, you can do the same things as anybody else [no matter your race].”

We thought it was rather silly that they would have signs out there like that… You can go and wear the same clothes as anybody else, you can do the same things as anybody else [no matter your race].”

— Joan Ifland

In 1954, King and his wife Coretta Scott moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and joined the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Many factors led to the Civil Rights Movement: Southern states’ failure to comply with Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the arrest of Rosa Parks, even the East St. Louis Riots of 1917. 

King’s involvement in both pastoral and racial activist organizations led to the Montgomery Movement and, consequently, the integration of said town’s bus systems. This was yet another catalyst for integration and equal rights. In 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize. His prize motivation is listed as “for his non-violent struggle for civil rights for the Afro-American population” (nobelprize.org). 

Though he is best known for fighting for racial equality, King also spoke against wealth disparity and war (specifically, that in Vietnam) until his assassination in 1968. This day of remembrance tends to serve as a reminder of both his career and the aforementioned movement as a whole. 

MHHS takes the day off

This Monday, Mountain Home School District was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the first time in over six years. Although it is a federal holiday, some states, such as Arkansas, do not mandate schools to close. 

This is the same case for private workplaces. However, as per AR Code Sec. 1-5-102, “All state offices are to be closed on the legal holidays [such as MLK Jr. Day], and employees are not required to work unless they are essential to the preservation and protection of the public peace, health, and safety. Also, various constitutional officers may use their own discretion in the matter of closing their offices on legal holidays.” 

MHHS schools have been taking significantly more short days/days off-campus with the introduction of Bomber Virtual Academy (BVA) so naturally, we would be more inclined to take this day off. On top of that, current events have led to people pushing for more recognition of Black history and the celebration of civil rights. 

Isabel Fuentes, a student at Northside High School, states, “We do have [MLK Day] off and have for as long as I can remember.” However, she believes that schools often fail to educate students on King’s legacy in depth. “I can’t remember the last time we’ve even talked about [him,] even in history classes.”  

Nat Stone, a former MHHSCA student, agrees. “Every school that I’ve been to before Mountain Home, we just took the day off because it was a holiday, but, in Mountain Home, we stayed in school but it was more education to people because they showed videos and documentaries of his life and his work… if we just got off like everywhere else people would just treat it like ‘Oh, it’s a holiday, we get off of school… As a person of color, I do feel like the day is more important and relevant to my history because I know that if people like him weren’t around my life would be fundamentally different whereas [that isn’t the case for] a white person.” 

Arkansas has had a so-so relationship with the holiday. It wasn’t until 2017 that the state chose to no longer observe Robert E. Lee’s birthday alongside MLK day. This leaves only two more that celebrate them on the same day (Alabama, Mississippi) and four in total (Georgia on the day after Thanksgiving, and Florida on the actual birthday: Jan. 19). 

How can you properly observe the holiday?

For starters, Black History Month is coming up, and there will likely be/ already are plenty of resources available (such as this article published by the NAACP) should you choose to educate yourself more on Black history. However, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day specifically, I’ve compiled a list below:

  1. Literature by/about Dr. King
    1. A website dedicated to commemorating him, The King Center, has a list of literature by and about him here. Though most links are to buy a copy, there are certainly free PDFs of some of his writings and transcripts of his speeches. 

      Display at Baxter County Library
    2. The Baxter County Public Library has shelves in both the teen’s and children’s section with books on the civil rights movement, such as:

      1. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
      2. They Called Themselves The K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartotelli
      3. We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
  2. Watch documentaries on his life and work- not only are these available on YouTube, but there are also countless recordings of his speeches and sermons
  3. Free virtual museum tour- The National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian) has plenty of free tours and interactive resources, including but not limited to:
    1. Explore More!- described as “an interactive, multifaceted educational space dedicated to helping visitors connect and engage with African American history and culture in ways that expand perspectives, spark curiosity and creativity, and increase knowledge.” 
    2. Their special collection with the Johnson Publishing Company celebrating 75 years of Ebony Magazine
    3. Jukebox D.C.’s virtual video tour 
    4. Street View and 360 shots of inside the building itself via Google Maps 
    5. A 360 Virtual tour with ABC