CRLS Observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Anneliese Mattox, Contributing Writer

CRLS took Monday, January 16th off to commemorate a federal holiday celebrating the legacy and achievements of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. In addition to providing CRLS community members opportunities to volunteer and take steps to act in King’s legacy, this holiday provided students much-needed rest before finals. While some would argue that taking the day to study or even simply sleep, instead of actively giving back, is disrespectful to King’s legacy, it is important to remember that MLK was one of the biggest advocates for education reform. This reform especially values character-building education and is beneficial to the well-being of students and teachers alike. He spoke about being the best learner and academic version of oneself possible; breaks are necessary to achieve that.

In addition to education advocacy, King was a dedicated civil rights activist and Baptist minister who spoke out and protested against segregation, voter discrimination, abuses of labor rights, capitalism, poverty, war, and many other social and political issues. He is most famous for organizing and leading the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which hundreds of thousands of Americans rallied in Washington D.C. to advocate for the economic and civil rights of Black Americans. His activism led to the passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts that continue to promote the civil and voting rights of Americans of color today.

His activism led to the passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts that continue to promote the civil and voting rights of Americans of color today.

King received a Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent protests, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Congressional Gold Medal in addition to the hundreds of streets, towns, counties, and schools named in his honor. The celebration of this holiday is an additional act of recognition, and maintaining King’s legacy means contributing to our communities and to the local and national dialogue about race and class. MLK Day is, after all, the only federal holiday classified as a National Day of Service. Therefore, the CRLS community acted accordingly to continue King’s fight against the major inequities present in our world, no matter how small the contribution. 

Part of Cambridge’s commitment to upholding King’s service includes food and clothing drives, programs to make cards for veterans and the elderly, walks, and other community service activities organized by CRLS clubs including Best Buddies, History Club, Interact Club, Literacy For All Club, Project 10 East, Muslim Culture Club, and more. Jeanne Alailima ’25, who made a slideshow about club efforts, tells the Register Forum, “The goal of the Day of Service was mainly to build connections within our community, and we wanted it to be something that would last beyond that opportunity. Although it can be really impactful to have a large amount of people volunteering on one day, it’s also important we keep that energy for the other days of the year.” Furthermore, even small steps benefit our communities, so when you get a moment, give the Reverend a quick Google search, and perhaps consider donating clothes, rather than throwing them out.

This article also appears in our January 2023 print edition.