I'm engaged in a little mini-skirmish in another venue with organizers and fans of the ScienceOnline conference thingy, which they apparently prefer to hold on the Fri-Sat prior to the US National holiday in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, you may not have noticed but ScienceBlogs (and let us face it, the science blogosphere generally) is kinda light on people from the groups which are most fond of this holiday. African-Americans, of course, but also the union/organized labor folks, organized farm workers and Latino-Americans. Even the dirty-hippie peacenik contingent is a bit light around these parts (although we do have this guy). So enthusiasm and respect for MLK Jr. Day may not be what it could be. This has ever been the case.
The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination. Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed in 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
For those of you who may not be steeped in USAian traditions, let me just note that calls to create a holiday for some Civil War era traitor to the USA or other continue to this day- with the explicit rationale that "they have their holiday".
"they have their holiday", what about ours?
Of course, the "resistance" to this holiday also continues in a more substantive manner via the refusal of private companies (read: employers) to celebrate. Which means that local community groups that wish to have full participation and involvement in celebrating the holiday often schedule their events on the Saturday or Sunday before the official third-Monday-in-January date.
This brings me to you, DearReader. Does your place of employment give the day off? When does your local community schedule the major events, parades, etc? Do they fail to recognize it altogether? How important is this holiday to you? If you are a boss do you quietly give your underlings the day off anyway if your company does not do so? Do you report in sick to attend a parade? Would you be loathe to travel for any professional obligations if it meant missing your local celebrations?
or is the fact that MLK Jr. Day is a US National holiday news to you?