Short work week recalls civil rights leader MLK Jr.

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This is a short week for many, especially those who work for the government and banks.

The third Monday of each January is the official observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and banks and government offices, including the U.S. Postal Service, closed. Some businesses and schools also closed.

The civil rights leader would have been 91 on Jan. 15.

King was only 39 at his death. He was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and was perhaps most famous for his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963.

Most people my age remember the day Mr. King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. It was a Thursday, April 4, 1968. Those who were born after that day surely have seen recaps of the shooting on the news. When one lives through a traumatic event, they remember it forever like the lyrics of a popular song from their teenage years.

James Earl Ray was 40 years old and an escaped fugitive who confessed to the assassination and was sentenced to a 99-year prison term. Ray died in prison on April 23, 1998 — 30 years after the fatal shooting that would shock people around the world.

Those were turbulent times as America witnessed a time of change … an awakening… a rebirth … a sort of unrest.

While all 50 states celebrate MLK Day on the third Monday of January, some states (Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia) also celebrate Robert E. Lee Day on the same day. Arizona and New Hampshire also celebrate Civil Rights Day, while Wyoming celebrates Wyoming Equality Day.

Equal rights for all Americans should not be in question. No matter what color the skin is, we are all Americans with the same rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

DENNIS RICHARDSON is the president of Magic Valley Publishing, the parent company for West 10 Media, including The Bartlett Express. Email him at dennis@magicvalleypublishing.com.