Yesterday was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. A U.S. Federal holiday that many companies, businesses, and school districts observe by cancelling this day of working…except my district. Don’t get me wrong, students were off, but teachers had the great pleasure of attending more Professional Learning classes also called Professional Development. Weeks prior to this day I proudly proclaimed that I would not be going to work. The problem came when I couldn’t come up with a valid reason to explain why I would not be going to Professional Development. I couldn’t just walk into my principal’s office and say, “MLK Day is a black holiday, so I should be excluded from coming in next Monday. Forget the man and forget you. If you don’t like it then you are racist.” First of all, I would have never said that. Plus it’s ignorant and stupid and a lie. I also couldn’t say, “I feel disrespected at the utter fact that this district doesn’t fully acknowledge MLK Day as a holiday. So since this district won’t honor him, I will honor Dr. King and not come in to work”. One of the reasons he and others were fighting were so that people, especially people like me, could be able to work. Anyway, none of those reasons, I felt, would suffice. My principal would most likely run home laughing about it to her husband over a glass of wine. I mean, if I were her, I would.
I went to work.
Because of the dream that Dr. King and all of the many others that dreamed this same dream, I am able to have the job I have today. I work in a district that seems to slowly be coming out of the dark and into the light, the irony, and can finally see that all people can make America Great, and have made America the great country that it is from the sweat off of all of our brows. Slowly but surely more and more people of color, not just black people, are being hired. Three years ago, I was the first African American to be hired as a teacher, not aide, at my current school. Every year since, there has been 1 more “W.O.C” (Women of Color) hired. From some discussions I have had with some of my co-workers, they never realized that all of the teachers were able to blend in with each other, until me. They noticed how un-diversified their faculty was, and wanted to make a change. Kudos!
Earlier in the year when discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, I explained to my young students that because part of Dr. King’s dream had been fulfilled, someone that looks like me can be their teacher.
So instead of taking the day to volunteer, or watch a MLK Day Parade on the “black side of town”, or sleep in, I chose to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by going to work. Also in remembrance of the many black people that could not get jobs in the past and presently, simply because of the color of their skin.
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Featured Images taken by KATherine of Dear Diary… July 2017