Jim Crow Rears His Ugly Head Again: Disrespecting the MLK Holiday in Georgia

Gilmer County and Fannin County school systems in Georgia have decided that they cannot find any other alternative to making up school days missed because of the snow storm without using the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to help make up those days missed. Well, Black folks are more sophisticated than that. We know racism when we see it—no matter how much you try to hide it. Don’t scapegoat God’s great snow to try to conceal your racism. If these school systems were looking to find alternatives to using the MLK holiday to make up for the school days missed, they could just change the scheduled last day of school to a date that would make up for the days missed. We find ways to do what we want to do, so don’t tell me that you cannot avoid using the MLK holiday to make up for school days missed due to the recent snow storm that much of the state of Georgia suffered. Read more about this story here: http://www.ajc.com/news/mlk-snow-make-up-803594.html

You would think that White people in Gilmer and Fannin Counties in Georgia who made the decision to disrespect the MLK holiday by using it to make up for days missed due to snow would have progressed in their thinking by now. Unfortunately, some White people will never progress in their thinking when it comes to serious race matters. I contend that the White school leaders in the predominantly White Gilmer and Fannin Counties are trying to make a statement about whether or not the MLK holiday should really be a holiday in the first place. They are trying to spur statewide and national debate about whether or not Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy is truly significant enough to warrant being celebrated as a federal holiday. Well, if you are racist, then you, of course, will never view the valuable contributions that Dr. King made to America as truly valuable.

It’s not that I’m surprised that racism is not present in my home state of Georgia. It’s not that I’m surprised that racist White people in Gilmer and Fannin Counties don’t want the MLK holiday to be a federal holiday. What I’m surprised about is they would try to fool people of all races that what this is really about is simply making up for school days missed and not about their racial prejudice and racism. I’m pleased to let the educational leaders of Gilmer and Fannin Counties know that we know that this is not about snow, but about your racial prejudice and racism. The MLK holiday exposes racist people because they become uncomfortable with the reason why they get to be out of school and work: to observe the life and legacy of Dr. King. This profound life and legacy unsettles them because the power of this man’s words and actions are able to make even the most hate-filled bones realize the ignorance behind that hate. Racist people know that their hatred is ignorant but they still elect to continue to live in ignorance.

I know some of my readers will argue that I should simply come to expect this kind of thing and that this kind of thing happens all of time and it does not do any good to spend this much time on a piece in response to it. I could not, however, disagree more. That’s the problem! We don’t do enough calling out of the racial prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, sexism, and racism that we experience daily. We need to do more to bring attention to these types of things. Ignorance can be defeated when we zealously speak to it with truth. When we champion love and justice more, we can begin to make people like the educational leaders in Gilmer and Fannin Counties feel more uncomfortable and less likely to make decisions that are going to be disrespectful, racist, and insensitive to most people in America and across the globe.

The predominantly White parents of Gilmer and Fannin Counties are complicit in the racist decision of the educational leaders of their counties by not protesting this decision. Hmm…obviously it’s not just the educational leaders in these counties who are racist—the majority of the people in these counties have to be racist for not wanting to put up any challenge to this racist decision.

Don’t lie and say that there were no other ways to address the missed days of school due to snow. Just be real, tell us that you are racist.

On this MLK holiday, find ways to apply the dominant themes of justice, peace, love, community, selflessness, hope, and character that Dr. King spoke about and represented in his actions. Don’t just sit around and talk about Dr. King and listen to his speeches—go out do the work that Dr. King championed.

I encourage everyone to write letters and protest the decision of the educational leaders in Fannin and Gilmer Counties to take away the MLK holiday from the students to make up days missed because of the recent snow storm in Georgia. Let them know how you really feel. Show them how you really feel. Let them feel your presence. Don’t let them forget what they have done on such a special day like today! This is not a time to let racist people have the victory over us—this is a time to fight their tactics, to fight their ignorance, and to fight their oppression. Stand up and fight!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Advertisements

13 comments

  1. I was hearing about talks about this coming up for the week. I’m not sure what the motivation factor from it but this being the MLK Holiday, should we connect this to racism? I know Jim Crow is real, I never knew he did either. I think encouraging those to actually write in is smart, I think so many of us are just complaining. We have to do something next-

    Great post, as always!

    1. @Drew: Thanks! Racism has to be a strong motivating factor for why these educational leaders decided to take this holiday away from the students. It was a lack of value for the Black body and a disrespect for the Black body that allowed these White leaders in these counties in Georgia to feel that it was okay to simply take away such an important day of celebration and remembrance of the life and legacy of a man who was so important to making us truly free from legal segregation and taking us from being second class citizens. For the people who decided to cancel the holiday, I can see nothing more than racism being the primary force motivating such a decision. People need to hold racists accountable, bring legal action against them, boycott their businesses, and etc. We must act and not simply complain. Racist people continue to win when we simply complain.

  2. Hey everyone. I think you are a little mislead. As one of the residents of these counties, I can safely say that the entire county cannot be represented by racism. I myself am the most anti-racist person you can find, and I can assure you that a lot of Gilmer County feels the same way I do. I’m only 20 years old, but I know a huge portion of the county and more and more Blacks have been moving in to the county, and it isn’t a problem. They are being accepted by everyone. I agree that they could have found another way in making up the days, but you should know that it wasn’t a racist move. I personally know 90% of the board that makes these decisions, and if it had been intended to be racist, those people NEVER would have let that happen.

    1. Josh, I can only hope that you are correct. It certainly has the strong appearance of racism. There were options available to avoid taking away the MLK Holiday. The lack of sensitivity to the importance of the MLK Holiday makes it seem like racism. I’m not a person who is quick to charge people with racism, but this is one case that had enough information from what I had available to classify these people as racists. If it was not racism, then it certainly was a tremendous failure of leadership to make the right decisions. I very much appreciate you for reading, responding, and providing your insights. Again, I can only hope that you are correct.

  3. The assumption that everyone in Gilmer County is racist screams racism right back. To assume everyone is racist is hurtful, degrading, and wrong. If you knew me you would be a “friend” on my Facebook page. You would have seen how outraged I was. I had also said that I was protesting and I was going to keep my children out of Gilmer County schools that day. I am as white as they come, but I bleed as red as you do Mr. Daniels.

    1. Elizabeth, umm…just tell me exactly where in the article did I say that everyone in Gilmer County is racist? I’m glad to see that you took a stand against the decision of Gilmer County officials to take the MLK Holiday away from the students. Obviously, you’re a member of the small percentage of White people who protested against this decision in Gilmer County. Thanks for reading, your response, and insights.

  4. Fannin County also used Presidents Day to make up for the 11 days they missed this year because of snow. Were they also disrespecting the Washington and Lincoln?
    Granted, many people in North Georgia are prejudiced against persons of color. This incident was not related to that.

    1. Given the racist history of America, taking away President’s Day does not even compare to the level of insensitivity in taking away the MLK Holiday. As you stated, “Many people in North Georgia are prejudiced against persons of color,” and I would contend that taking away the MLK Holiday is a product of this racial prejudice. They could have used another day instead of the MLK Holiday. When I was in K-12, we went to school on President’s Day but it was never even thought of to go to school on the MLK Holiday–no matter what was going on. By the way, my K-12 education was obtained in Georgia. Thanks for reading and your response.

  5. In case you didn’t know, all schools in Georgia must close in a Friday. Once we make the starting and ending dates on a school year, there is no changing it. As a citizen of Fannin county, I know that in our schools, 46% if the students are NOT white!!! MLK was all about education, he would not want us to miss school whenever we could be in school learning about him. My own son asked me who MLK was and he claimed he had never heard if him because we are out of school. I believe that he would want us in school learning about him and what he stood for, not sitting out of school and laying around playing video games.

    1. Most of my K – 12 experience was spent in Georgia schools and I have taught in Georgia school as well, so I know you are very inaccurate about all schools in Georgia having to close on a Friday. School calendars, including starting and ending dates can be changed. The MLK holiday should have been included as a holiday that all schools in Georgia and everywhere happily welcome as a holiday that teachers, students, administrators and staff have off. Highlighting that 46% of the students in the county not being White does nothing to resolve the issue about the county not observing the MLK holiday. When people are not off for the MLK holiday, they do not have the choice to do anything but go to school. Your suggestion, therefore, that they are not going to do anything but play video games is highly arrogant (to say the least). You should have already taught your son about MLK if you really honored the life and legacy of MLK. Your response is a huge excuse to cover up so many things.

  6. It is very racist here. In fact, the majority don’t even really know they are racist. I pray this changes. It enrages me to see so many confederate flags everywhere. It is ignorance not heritage.
    My father and his family have generations raised in north georgia. My mom is european. As a southerner, we have to admit our wrong doing. Anything that smacks of hatred or the old south should be abolished – no exceptions. The heart holds the truth and my neighbors need to look deeply in their heart and ask what would Jesus do.

    1. It’s past time for racism to expire. I encourage you to continue to speak out against the racism and bias in your area. Most racists view themselves as Christians, so we have to highlight how contradictory racism and Christianity is. I very much appreciate your response; it’s highly encouraging to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s