Martin Luther King Day in America

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Martí Micolau

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In these days, you may have seen online the commercial that the NBA made for the Martin Luther King Day of this year: in a video of about one minute scrolls the images of those who have been considered barriers breakers, that is, who have contributed to the demolition of racial barriers, in basketball. Among the protagonists of the video we see players like Chuck Cooper, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson and, in the background, the words of Martin Luther King echo.

The NBA video:

We would like to think that it is only a successful multimedia product, suggestive and touching, but in reality the racial differences - despite the great achievements - have not yet been resolved: despite the fact that more than 45 years have passed since the Protestant pastor was killed for the his commitment and his activism in the field of civil rights, ethnic equality in America is still far from being achieved.

And so Martin Luther King Day is not just a red day on the calendar, but a real day dedicated to the memory of those who, with their lives, fought for the rights of blacks to be the same as those of whites.

Born in 1929 in Atlanta, Martin Luther King became the spokesperson for the movement in support of effective equality of rights between whites and blacks in the XNUMXs: peacefully and avoiding all forms of violence, thanks to his innate charisma, he managed to attract the crowds. His speeches had a boundless audience of listeners, as did his parades; he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The message of love and brotherhood preached, but above all personified by Martin Luther King, survived the shooting that, on April 4, 1968, struck him fatally in Memphis, while he was on the terrace of his hotel.

The figure of Martin Luther King continues to transmit, generation after generation, the sublime possibility that the world can not only change, but also improve.

And for the depth of the meaning, in America, Martin Luther King Day is a rather heartfelt celebration even today: if in other holidays it happens often and willingly that Americans ignore the meaning of the day and "take advantage" of it to carve out a few days of vacation , the same cannot be said for MLK Day.

On the third Monday of January (the one closest to January 15, when the Protestant pastor was born) the Americans honor his memory in an almost impeccable way: taking his commitment to the community as an example, in all cities activities for the benefit of others. From taking care of the city green to the distribution of meals to the marginalized through to serving in the library, whatever the inclination of each one, there will always be a way to be useful to others.

For us tourists, however, there is no shortage of events with a decidedly more folkloric flavor and, among these, the parades they are certainly the most characteristic ones.

The pleasant Miami weather is the backdrop to the parade held in the Liberty City neighborhood (January 19): the parade takes place on NW 54th Street and ends at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park. Colors and music, cheerleaders and floats animate the parade, while at the park entertainment for children and many delicacies for the palate end the day in a great way.

If, on the other hand, you are near Washington, the parade is held from 11 January 19: on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE and Milwaukee Place SE, ethnic groups from different corners of the world (Asia, Bolivia, Jamaica and Afro America ) will take to the streets in a peace march for an image of love and brotherhood that will surely be worth a thousand words ...

Finally, in Los Angeles, the 3-mile parade could only involve Martin Luther King Boulevard: the start of the 30th edition, dedicated to the theme "Love and Respect: Let It Begin With Me", is at 10,45 am and will see gangs involved , floats, corps de ballet and cars ...

Whether it's making yourself available to others or enjoying a fun parade, celebrating Martin Luther King Day this year will certainly have a very special value ...

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