I will admit to being indifferent to MLK Jr. day since its establishment. Not against it, but nor was I ever an enthusiastic supporter or participant. Where I have been employed, it has always been an "optional" holiday and I never took the option. Next year, however, my company is changing that. We will have the day off. With pay. It will be treated as a "real" holiday. It's about time. Millions of words are no doubt being written about Obama's inauguration coming the day after MLK Jr. Day and how the "Dream" is coming full-circle. There are more eloquent voices who can address such a unique moment to be sure, but as I walked around downtown San Francisco on my lunch break today, I noticed that today is definitely a Holiday. More shoppers, less workers and a different kind of traffic on the street. I can also feel it here in the office, where it has been very quiet all day. It seems that every year more and more people choose the take this optional holiday.
But there is more to it than that. There is an anticipation in the air today. You can feel it. You can see it on people's faces even if they are trying to not show it.
I saw it in the face of the older, worn-looking woman tossing a football with a teenager (her son?) outside of the Contemporary Museum. He threw perfect spirals- she threw an end-over-end mess, but there they were- basking in the warm afternoon with nothing more pressing on their agenda. Same for the two white guys skillfully playing frisbee. It was there again in the face of the tall black guy with the Larry Blackmon haircut and an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder, striding down 4th Street. In the faces of the Asian mom and her little boy in their funky t-shirts eating ice cream outside of s Starbucks. And there are many more.
Today I also saw it online- where I usually don't expect to see things that stick in my mind in a touching way- on Facebook, of all things.
My friend T_____, with whom I have just re-connected via Facebook after a long spell where we lost touch, is an African-American woman married to a white man. They have two young boys, who are obviously of mixed-race parentage. They are a good-looking family.
Today T_____'s comment status reads, "is celebrating a very special holiday commemorating a man that made many things possible for her and her family."
The more I think about that comment, the more it resonates with me.
And as we all take a deep breath and welcome a new era for our country (and the world!), fraught and uncertain as it stands right now, I too, would like to celebrate this holiday commemorating a man who has made many things possible for all of us.
Yes, he did.