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A Non-Optional Holiday

Why we should celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/a_nonoptional_holiday_20020118

Back in 1990, while working as an assistant at a film production company, my daily mail chores acquainted me with the postal worker across the street. One Friday, as we said our goodbyes, I said, "See you Monday," when she corrected me: Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I didn't know if my office would be closed, I said. Her eyes flashed as she said she would take the holiday even if it weren't given to her, because "it's our holiday." In that flash, I saw the different worlds we inhabited in the same country, my skin color having allowed me to forget it. I knew our meant black. I wanted to tell her it was my holiday, too, but I didn't know if it was. Back at the office, I learned that it was an optional holiday -- whoever wanted to take the day off could, but the office would be open. I told my boss that I would take the holiday. I later learned from a co-worker that the boss was annoyed with me, that in her opinion "the only person who should have the day off is the receptionist -- the only black employee."

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