Today is a federal holiday, which means schools are closed in Washington, D.C. However in some states, districts have abandoned plans to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and instead are holding classes to make up for time lost during the recent record-setting spate of winter storms.
The decision to hold classes in some districts in Indiana isn’t sitting well with Mark Russell, director of education, family services and housing at the Indianapolis Urban League.
“Given the history of this nation and the unique role that race and race relations has played from its inception, this one long-hard-fought-for holiday—I would hope there would be some recognition that this is not just another holiday,” Russell told the Indianapolis Star.
A few years ago similar decisions to turn the holiday into a makeup day in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina drew sharp criticism from civil rights leaders who said it was an insult to King’s memory.
“It always seems like Martin Luther King day is the first one they are willing to give up,” Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told the New York Times.
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In Iowa City, school is in session today not because of the recent “polar vortex” but instead due to a quirk in state law. The local school board had considered observing the holiday but was informed by the Iowa Department of Education that it didn’t have the authority to keep students out of class for that purpose. Community leaders said while they realized the school board couldn’t buck the state, the decision was still disappointing. From the (Cedar Rapids) Gazette’s reporting: