How to celebrate MLK?
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An advertising/public relations agency in Seattle recently launched a segregated website to memorialize Martin Luther King, Jr.
To enter the site, RememberSegregation.org, viewers must click either "White Visitors" or "Colored Visitors." Both options lead you to the same information -- a timeline and biography of Dr. King, ending with this reminder:
"No matter the color of our skin, we all need to remember that January 16th is more than just a day off. It is a day to join together in celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A day to be thankful for how far we have come. And a day to realize how far we have left to go."
The business that created the site, DDB Seattle, also sent out segregated black-and-white direct mail to Seattle's public figures and high school civics teachers. The point is, obviously, to make people "Remember Segregation" and to increase awareness and reverence for this day.
But, clearly, MLK day has not reached the same heights as, say, Presidents' Day, Veterans' Day or Labor Day. I mean, where are all the sales? If the retail world sees fit to take 40% off all linens to commemorate those who have died in war, why can't we get at least, like, 30% off to commemorate the contributions of a civil rights leader and the end of segregation?
Okay, so I'm being facetious. I just think the way we publicly commemorate the things we revere is both interesting and occasionally odd. Here's this PR and advertising agency attempting to educate people (while quietly promoting itself) about Dr. King's life by segregating us online. (Meanwhile, CNN anchors ironically focus on the "battle" that is "raging" about whether or not to turn over the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change to the National Park Service.)
Does anyone else find this to be a little odd, or am I the one off message here? Any thoughts on how we should be celebrating and remembering Dr. King?
Maria Luisa Tucker is a staff writer at AlterNet and associate editor of the Columbia Journal of American Studies.