No school Monday means more than a day off

Martin Luther King Jr. honored with federal holiday for 35 years

Pratyush Pathak

By Aaron Boehmer, Liberty High School - TX

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The 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed Monday to honor the civil rights leader and his contributions to American society. 

As a federal holiday, many government agencies and offices are closed for the day, including most school districts such as Frisco ISD

I think keeping his name alive and his goodwill, all the things that he did for our society is a wonderful concept, but to have a day off that really doesn’t do anything for his name,”

— English and debate teacher Michelle Porter

For many people, Monday is nothing more than a day off and that’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by English and debate teacher Michelle Porter. 

“We as a society don’t take it as seriously as it should be taken,” Porter said. “I think that it has become a free off-day for students and many adults. I know the media tries to translate it as a day that we should reflect and volunteer and what not, but do we actually do those things? I think the majority of us don’t. I think keeping his name alive and his goodwill, all the things that he did for our society is a wonderful concept, but to have a day off that really doesn’t do anything for his name.” 

Porter believes it’s part of her responsibility to bring her viewpoint and perspective to the table. 

“As an African American teacher in Frisco, I see that there’s just not enough diversity information being taught, and I think that the students need the presents of diversity in terms of teachers, not just African Americans but other ethnicities as well,” she said. “Perhaps in Frisco, we don’t do as good of a job promoting MLK Day or other ethnically celebrated days and that’s something we really need to work on.” 

Knowing herself and her intentions as a teacher, Porter sees herself as an example for all students, as well as a way to bring proximity between people of majority and minority groups. 

“I do see myself as a role model, but only because I know that in my heart I am trying to lead all students down the right path,” she said. “I’m trying to teach integrity as well as kindness, and so that’s an individual thing, but I think it helps even seeing it from a minority’s perspective.”

He’s inspiring because he showed the way you can get what you want without being violent, without hurting, or putting other people in danger, just by doing it peacefully,”

— senior Brysen Banks

Seeing himself in King, senior Mason Terry recognizes the significance of MLK’s work and impact on the country. 

“Martin Luther King paved the way for guys like me and he gave me this opportunity to have a great education,” Terry said. “He had a tremendous impact on America. America wouldn’t be the same without him, it would be separated and Martin Luther King brought us together and said we should work as one to reach a certain common goal.” 

Senior Brysen Banks hopes to bring back one of the reasons for the holiday that honors King. 

“The point is to recognize the civil rights activist, the movement, how we became a free country, how we all became equal, and blended together in school and jobs because of him,” Banks said. “He’s inspiring because he showed the way you can get what you want without being violent, without hurting, or putting other people in danger, just by doing it peacefully.” 

This story was originally published on Wingspan on January 17, 2020.