Returning to Dr. King's Message With Community Service

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recieves the city's Medallion of Honor from Mayor Wagner (Image courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives)

Since 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been celebrated as a federal holiday. Yet, even from the start, the day was met with controversy: senators Jesse Helms and John McCain fought against the creation of the holiday, and more recently, some major figures —such as Cornel West — have started a campaign against what West called the “Santa-Claus-ification” of Dr. King. Harris Wofford also perceives Dr. King's message as becoming warped over the years, and now advocates for Americans to spending the holiday donating their service instead of just taking off of work.

Harris Wofford is former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and co-founder of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.


Harris Wofford

Produced by:

Sitara Nieves

Comments [5]

anna from new york

Sure, Mike, there was no talk about individuality in this land before King. Your comment is as group think as it can be. Sorry to inform you, but King was probably the last person who would promote "grab, steal and rob" "individualistic" barbarity.

Jan. 16 2012 09:44 AM

I was there, I lived through it. What I remember and admire about the challenge this human placed on his shoulders was that he had to convince a nation of two populations to think and act as one so that the INDIVIDUAL citizen could be free as an individual. Today I will strive to not group think. I will not think Black or White, Eastern or Hispanic. I will not think Republican or Democrat. I will not think With or Without. Today I will honor the visionary leader by treasuring and acting out my right to be an individual.

Jan. 16 2012 09:25 AM
anna from new york

This what happens when population is illiterate - you can sell everything. Dozens of millions of people are unemployed which means absolute tragedy to countless families and this ... encourages elimination of more jobs by forcing idiotic population to WORK more and more ... after some 70 hour workweek.
Utter, absolute barbarity, pure indecent demagoguery. King is turning in his grave.

Jan. 16 2012 07:31 AM
anna from new york

What this guy is promoting represents the ultimate betrayal of MLK. If I understand it correctly, King was against enslavement. This guy promotes enslavement. I am all for activism this day or rest (nothing wrong with rest). But if one prefers activism, it should be dedicated to promotion of decent working condition, including 40 hour work week, decent civilized vacations, sick days, etc. instead of this "ponyedyelnik." The "wonderful" former Soviet Union figured it out how to exploit those who were not in labor camps yet and invented "subbotnik" and "voskresnik." This American "ponyedyelnik" has the same function - don't give people a minute to reflect - exploit, exploit, exploit.

Jan. 16 2012 07:23 AM
Maaza from Johannesburg, South Africa

I'm glad Mr. Wofford mentioned Nelson Mandela during your chat about Martin Luther King. South Africa has instituted a similar day of service in order to commemorate Mandela's birthday. Nelson Mandela Day is on July 18 and every South African is encouraged to contribute at least 67 minutes of community service to commemorate Madiba's 67 years of public service.

Jan. 16 2012 07:20 AM

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