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The City Beat


Posted 3:21 PM by


Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day.  When I was a kid, we celebrated both George Washington Day and Abraham Lincoln Day.  Both of those are now subsumed into .  President’s Day, because, as our nation grew older, there was some debate about celebrating other President's birthdays.  Rather than extend the debate into just which past President’s were worthily of having a national day of celebration, we came up with the far less divisive idea of a day that would commemorate all of our past presidents, and if individual citizens chose to remember one more highly than all the others, well, it is done privately.


I’d like, here, to make the argument that it’s time to do the same with this holiday, which ought to be renamed Melting Pot Day.  Is that meant. somehow, to denigrate Dr. King’s accomplishments?  Certainly not, but Dr. King is part of a line of champions for freedom that extends back to the country’s founding and which will doubtless extend forward as long as we as a people are capable of seeing the differences between ‘us’ and ‘them’ without also acknowledging that ‘we’ are ‘them.‘   Dr. King’s accomplishments are exceptional, but they stand as part of, not alone from, all of those who have stood up and fought for their rce’s, for their ethnic group’s, right to be part of that dream he so eloquently described.


Almost all of us came here, or are descended from those who came here, from elsewhere.  Admittedly, few outside of African Americans are descended from those who came here kicking and screaming, but, honestly, all of the rest of those who, in various periods of time, came here, wouldn’t have come if life in the place where they immigrated from, was an ideal place.  It’s been said, time and time again, that we are a nation of immigrants.  


It appears that the role of immigrants, here, is to melt into society, and, having done so, to make life difficult for other batches of immigrants from elsewhere who follow..    Life is always difficult for new immigrant groups, and more so if each have more identifiable physical characteristics that others.  How those who were assimilated here have treated African Americans is despicable, but so too is the way those here first treated the Irish, or the asians, or the arabs.  


We recognize ourselves as descending from those who came from elsewhere, and we choose to celebrate, on a thousand different holidays, as being such descendants.  Those who remember, or have family who remember, know that it was never an easy time to come here.  For some, OK, for many, it still isn’t an easy time.  Still, I doubt very much that there’s an immigrant group, or the descendants of an immigrant group, as a whole, that deeply, really, wants to reverse migrate..


No matter where your people came from, and for a huge amount or us, “your people” constitute an already melted pot of ancestors from varying places.  For others, in a generation, or two, or three, or four, the same will be true.  Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the melting pot that ended up with me, here.  I was found on the doorstep of a Chicago hospital, and won’t ever know what things conspired to bring me here.  Still, I’m part of a never ending progression of those who came from elsewhere, and became part of here.  


Happy Melting Pot Day.



Comments (2)
Alex Wilmore wrote
I believe your sentiments are in the right place but do not think it is the appropriate time to change the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The battle to recognize his life's struggle with a national holiday was hard fought and the bad feelings caused by the resistance haven't even healed. We have only had this holiday for half a generation, I don't think the idea of changing it to Melting Pot day would be acceptable to many folks.
Posted Jan 20 2013 5:46 PM
Alex Wilmore wrote
I believe your sentiments are in the right place but not sure the idea of changing the holiday is sound. The battle to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday was hard fought. The resistance to such a holiday was substantial and left battle scars that have not been forgotten. The holiday to commemorate Dr. King has only been in existence for half a generation and I do not think many folks would be ready to change it, even for something as honorable as Melting Pot Day.
Posted Jan 20 2013 5:58 PM
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