Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day) has been a national holiday for 33 years now. The process of creating the national holiday, however, was not one of the easiest processes.
The call for a holiday was first raised in late 1968, not too long after his assassination. After much debate and turmoil, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the new federal holiday in 1983. However it was not officially observed until three years later. Even then, many states did not recognize the holiday and refused to celebrate it as its own day.
Some states combined the limited celebrations they did with other holidays nearby, and some even disregarded completely. The holiday was finally observed in all 50 states in 2000, 22 years after the initial call.
The holiday for students at Alma College holds a wide variety of activities. Including guest speakers, church services, choir performances and dance performances. The school also designates that on MLK Day, classes in the afternoon will be cancelled. MLK Day for students can mean a lot of things. For many it is a reminder of what our past holds and how we can do with our future. “MLK Day does not hold any special meaning to me personally, but it does allow me to celebrate and honor one of our country’s finest civil rights leaders” said Andrew Bach (’21).
On MLK Day this year, Reverend Andrew Pomerville gave a special sermon to the students and faculty of Alma College. Between choir performances, dances and readings by students, Pomerville stood and delivered more of his sermon. Pomerville spoke in such a way that many forgot they were even at a church service.
Students typically use the extra time to attend one, if not several, of the events offered on campus. Many students, in fact, went to Reverend Andrew Pomerville’s service as it was his first MLK Day service at Alma College. “I loved hearing Reverend Pomerville speak! He gave such a powerful speech” said Blake Jonassen (’22).
Pomerville spoke about the current generation and tied it back to Reverend King. “What really stood out to me was Pomerville’s sermon, and in particular when he explained how our generation is the best hope for the future because of our connectivity with others and how willing we are to be involved in others’ lives” said Jonassen.
Also at Pomerville’s sermon, the choir and dance departments each gave a performance. The Alma Choir and Chorale each performed a song, and the dance company did a performance as tribute to King. These performances moved many students and stood out and impacted many of them as well. “What stood out most to me, was the dance performance. The song that they picked was so moving and really idealized what MLK Day should be, at least in my eyes” said Liz Gallagher (’20).
Many students attended the chapel for the first time on MLK Day, and have since decided that after hearing Reverend Pomerville speak, to attend on a more regular basis. “He is such an excellent public speaker. He is also just so kind and friendly in general. I am definitely considering attending some of his services in the future” said Bach.
“Once I heard Reverend Pomerville speak, I was much more willing to attend chapel services on a more regular basis. Pomerville is so enthusiastic about what he preaches, and it engages the audience even more” said Jonassen.