School closure honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments

Jan. 14, 2022

Everyone knows his name, but not many people know the depth of his character and accomplishments. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights icon and social activist who spent his life advocating for equality.

In 1968, President Ronald Reagen signed Martin Luther King Jr. Day into law, making it a national holiday. As such, it is imperative that this holiday be given the same respect as other national holidays like President’s Day and Memorial Day. This is the first year Lyndhurst Public School students have off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it should remain this way for years to come.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr. on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta. His father was a Baptist minister with the same name, but he changed both his own and his son’s name in honor of Protestant reformer Martin Luther

King skipped grades 9 and 12, entering college at 15 years old. He was ordained as a Baptist minister before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Morehouse College in 1948. 

King then went on to receive a divinity degree from Pennsylvania’s Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951. Then, he attended graduate school at Boston University, where he earned his doctorate in systematic theology in 1955. 

He also organized many peaceful protests including the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955. For these actions, King was imprisoned 29 times during the course of his life. 

The majority of students only associate King with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he disclosed his hope that America no longer be segregated and that everyone have equal rights. On Aug. 28, 1963, King delivered this speech to other civil rights marchers and activists at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

King actually made his first speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1957, where he discussed the importance of voting rights. Overall, King delivered about 450 speeches per year for several years, according to the news website Inc.com. He also organized many peaceful protests including the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955. For these actions, King was imprisoned 29 times during the course of his life. 

King was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. His murderer, James Earl Ray, was an escaped convict who was ultimately sentenced to 99 years in prison. 

At the time, King was in Tennessee advocating for the rights of Memphis sanitation workers who had gone on strike. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. 

Many students do not even know half of the aforementioned information. Thus, it is imperative that school districts give their students the opportunity to properly celebrate King’s contributions. 


Another reason schools should be closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is that many parents have the day off and, therefore, pull their children out of school. A lot of jobs do not offer many holidays off, so parents want to take advantage of this day to spend time with their children. 

There is also the issue of Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus stumbled on the New World of the Americas in 1492 as he was trying to make his way to the West Indies. Once he arrived, he enslaved and mutilated the natives whose land he claimed. If this tyrant has been celebrated, then a hero like King certainly deserves a day of recognition. 

In past years, on Columbus Day, Lyndhurst Public Schools have either been closed for students with faculty professional development, or it has been a 4-hour day for students followed by faculty professional development in the afternoon. 

King was a brilliant and selfless individual. He strove to make the world a better place, and he deserves to be respected. For this reason, Lyndhurst Public School District is to be commended for its decision to close its schools on Jan. 17.

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