So, my son quips that Monday is "Martin King Luther Day" but before I can correct him it becomes evident that he is making fun of our dry erase calendar by the front door that is clearly marked "MKL." So when I wake the teen girl I ask for an explanation. She says, "I know it is Martin Luther King Day but Granny told me you abbreviate it MKL and that’s how it is written on our church bulletin."
For a little over a decade I threw a party the Saturday of Martin Luther King’s birthday never thinking that it could be construed as of a bunch white boys debaucherously celebrating the death of a black civil rights leader. It was just an excuse for a handful of friends to get loopy. It just happened to be a 3 day weekend for most people and an easy date to remember. These defunct parties are a huge source of contention between Cathy and I so I will say no more other than we always referred to the holiday as MLK weekend when not directly calling it The Long Island Tea Party aka The LIT.
Time to do some searching. Hmmm. It appears that the City of Bettendorf Indiana does indeed respect MKL day (as seen in the <title> of their press release). Ah! Looks like Stacy is looking for some ski buddies for MKL day. She’s got some decent slopes (Keystone and Copper). Raw Dogma references MKL Day as its source but does not actually link to the source or make the source findable in anyway. The Asbury Seminary will not hold classes on MKL Day. Oh no! Am I detecting a trend between "church bulletins" and seminary’s slighting Martin Luther King by intentionally getting his initials wrong? Surely not! Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary School is also closed for MKL Day. And Psychology 2606 at the University of Colorado at Boulder is closing for MKL Day.
In 1983, the 98th Congress passed Public Law 98-144 to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. This was first celebrated as a Federal legal holiday on January 20, 1986 and has been observed on the third Monday of January since that time. Congress’ intention was that the holiday “serve as a time for Americans to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr.” (36 USC, Section 169j). [Source]
Conclusion: my hypothesis is that people have made a typo abbreviating Martin Luther King, Jr’s name as MKL instead of MLK. Because this has made it into church bulletins and references that people respect without question, some people have accepted MKL as the abbreviation. My conspiracy theory above was a joke. I don’t really believe there is an underground racist movement to disrespect the holiday, or the man, by intentionally getting his initials wrong. I could not find anything that definitely abbreviated the holiday as either MKL or MLK. Perhaps there is a conflict in the abbreviation MLK and indeed MKL could be the "official" abbreviation (but I doubt it).
Our world has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. It wasn’t that long ago (1877 to mid 1960s) that people of different race ate in different sections of restaurants, used separate bathrooms, and even had separate water fountains. There are racial inequalities that still exist and social reform that still needs to happen. I think some of our current political leaders would like to see social reform go backwards (maybe not racially speaking but ideologically speaking). I think our near future holds revolutions to be had in economic injustices, educational reforms, and other non-racial issues. So is this just another 3 day weekend for you? Or will you take "time … to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr.?"