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Awards & Recognition

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: First Place (Daniel Anthony, Opinion Category); Fifth Place (Brendan Jubulis, Sports)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)
Student Keystone Press Awards Honorable Mention (Website)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The struggle and history


While having the third Monday of January off from school every year is a nice perk, the real reasons for Martin Luther King Jr. Day are much deeper than that. The true purpose of this holiday is to reflect on and honor the legacy of the leader and inspiration that was Martin Luther King Jr., and to pay our respects to his accomplishments. The fight for this federal holiday in itself deserves to be applauded, and it continues to this day. 

According to, the first step towards Martin Luther King Jr. Day occurred only four days after King’s assassination. One of the few Black people in Congress, John Conyers, insisted on a federal holiday to honor King on the Congress floor. Unfortunately, this request failed. 

Despite the disappointing decision, Conyers was persistent. He continued to introduce the same bill repeatedly year after year, and he gathered as many co-sponsors as he possibly could. For 15 years, the Congressional Black Caucus (which was partially founded by Conyers himself), otherwise known as the CBC, advocated on Conyer’s behalf. 

Even after the bill was brought to the floor to debate, every single attempt at the holiday was a failure. 

Finally, in the early 1980s, the support started to grow. Six million signatures of support had been collected by the CBC, Stevie Wonder had written his song titled “Happy Birthday” in honor of King, and civil rights veterans gathered in Washington to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington. Things were starting to look up. 

The legislation for the holiday made it to the floor once again, and it was filibustered by Republican senator Jesse Helms. According to, the term “filibuster” describes a political procedure that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly so as to delay a decision. Helms wanted to introduce FBI smear material on King, and the FBI agency itself had spent many years prior trying to pinpoint King as a Communist and threat to the United States. Tensions boiled over. In possibly the most important moment of the debate, Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York brought said materials onto the floor and dropped them in disgust. 

The bill for Martin Luther King Jr. Day finally passed the following day, and President Ronald Reagan immediately signed the legislation. The first official Martin Luther King Jr. Day took place on January 20, 1986. This success was well deserved and incredibly important for social justice. 

Even though the holiday began to be celebrated, it still took many years for the holiday itself to be filtered through every state. Multiple southern states immediately combined the day with holidays that uplifted Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It wasn’t even until 2000 that every state in the Union finally observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day. To this day, the holiday is still celebrated in consolidation with Confederate figures. 

Villa senior Rue Daniels understands the complexity and importance of honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and she believes that it should be a day of its own. 

“King himself was an advocate and extremely innovative,” Rue said. “If anything, the days should at least be separated. If anyone deserves a day to himself of remembrance and honor, it is King. He was a scholar, an inspiration, and such an important voice for the civil rights movement.”

Vice President of Academics and Student Affairs Mr. Pituch also values the importance of this holiday for a variety of different reasons. 

“First, it highlights the struggle people of color have experienced to gain rights throughout American History,” Mr. Pituch said. “This struggle, unfortunately, continues today, as unequal treatment of minorities still exists in a variety of ways within our great country. Second, it is a reminder of the responsibility of every American to work to improve the condition of themselves, their family, and their community, whether that be through peaceful protest, education, or simply engaging. Lastly, and in some ways most importantly, the holiday pays homage to a man who gave his life for a cause much greater than himself, to be selfless, and fight tirelessly in the face of opposition for the cause of justice and equality of all people.”

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About the Contributor
Olivia Buckel
Olivia Buckel, Senior Editor-in-Chief
Olivia is the senior editor-in-chief of The Rambler. She was the junior editor of The Rambler during the 2021-2022 school year, and has written over twenty articles. She enjoys going to the movies, reading, and skiing in her free time, and hopes to pursue English at a four-year university.
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