MLK Friday: Why You Shouldn’t Skip



On January 17, 2020 City High will be offering a variety of activities the connect to the messages spread by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Jesse Hausknecht-Brown, Features Editor

As Martin Luther King Day approaches, buzz around City High increases as the last pieces fall in place for the second annual school MLK Day celebration, including activities, field trips and teacher-led sessions. This day, which will take place on the Friday before MLK Day, is an important day to recognize diversity and have discussions about inclusion and activism in a school setting. However, while teachers, and some students, put the final touches on their plans, other students ask each other if they will skip school that day and make plans with their parents to get called out. I heard these conversations last year and began hearing the same, “We aren’t doing anything, I might as well not go” rhetoric as of last week. 

Additionally, students often complain about learning things that they feel are not important or will be useful to them later on in life. This MLK Friday is a less structured day where students are given exactly what they want so badly: a day where they get to choose what they want to learn about. 

“People have said to themselves before, ‘I wish school was more about stuff that really mattered to people. And I wish it was a little bit more creative. And I wish we had more choice.’ Then it’s hard to say on the one day a year when you have what you asked for, that you say, ‘well that doesn’t matter, so I’m just going to get called out,’” Michael Ayers said. 

To me, learning about diversity, equality and the history of racial activism is one of the most important and interesting things we can be taught in school.

“As a parent, I can’t imagine saying to my kid, ‘You have this opportunity to learn something about that has to do with, presumably, most of them have to do with diversity and inclusion and society,’ and those are the things that really matter and things that people are talking a lot about. So it’s hard for me to imagine saying, ‘Yeah, I don’t care if you just skip that,’” Ayers said.

I think that students would like it if we had more opportunities to do that kind of thing where you get to see connections across disciplines.”

— Michael Ayers

Another fun part of MLK Friday, for students and for teachers, is how teachers get to collaborate with teachers in other departments.

“We don’t always have the flexibility to do creative things across discipline,” Ayers said. “I think that students would like it if we had more opportunities to do that kind of thing where you get to see connections across disciplines.” 

It is important to note that some students may not be attending school because they need to work to support their families.

“We should give lip service to some people need to work to help their families, every opportunity that they get,” Ayers said. “If you’re taking the day [off and] taking that opportunity to go to work to help support your family, that is a different kind of thing and I don’t think anybody should judge that.”

At the end of the day, it is very important that we recognize the work of all the teachers who are trying to make this day work best for everyone. 

“Doing this Martin Luther King Day thing is kind of an experiment,” Ayers said. “People who would like school to look different as often as it can would like that experiment to work, and it only works if people show up.”

At City High, we are very lucky to have this opportunity to learn about the significance of activism and diversity as well as the messages spread by Dr. King.