Martin Luther King Day is unique among American holidays, in the sense that it does not commemorate a religious event like Christmas or Easter, a cultural tradition like Thanksgiving or Halloween, or a former president. Indeed, MLK Day is the only major holiday in the United States that celebrates the role of a political dissident – there is no William Lloyd Garrison or Susan B. Anthony or Ida Tarbell or Eugene Debs Day in the US. It gives us occasion to consider the role of activism and political struggle in the making of our (hopefully) “more perfect union.” In that sense, it is perhaps the most American of holidays.
To commemorate the legacy of Dr. King, we have looked back at some of the many essays that deal with civil rights, activism, and social justice we have published over the last six years. Whether surfing or blocking freeways or organizing for better working conditions, women, African-Americans, Chicano/as and countless others fought tooth-and-nail for a better life throughout US history. These are their stories.