In 1979, eleven years after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Senator Edward Brooke (R-Massachusetts) introduced the first bill in Congress to make Dr. King’s birthday a federal holiday. The bill failed to pass by five votes. Arguments against the holiday included the fact that King was a private citizen, never elected to any office, and that the federal government could not afford to give its employees another paid holiday.
The bill came up again in 1983. Those of you who remember North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms will not be surprised to learn that he filibustered against it, alleging that King was unpatriotic–King had opposed the war in Vietnam–that King was a Marxist with Communist ties, and that King was simply not important enough to merit the honor of a federal holiday.
Despite all of Helms’s efforts, the bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 338-90, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law on November 2, 1983. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated on January 20th, 1986.
Several states refused to honor Dr. King, and got around it by calling their holiday Civil Rights Day, or Human Rights Day; in the deep South, some states combined the new holiday with existing Confederate holidays, giving citizens the option to celebrate Robert E. Lee’s birthday, Stonewall Jackson’s, and/or Martin Luther King’s.
As recently as 1993, the people of Arizona voted down proposals to make MLK Day a paid state holiday. This decision cost them the chance to host Superbowl XVII, as the NFL moved the game to Pasadena in protest.
The last state to make MLK Day an official state holiday was South Carolina, in 2000, and today Dr. King’s memory is honored in all fifty states, as well as in Toronto, Canada, and Hiroshima, Japan. The day has become a Day of Service, during which people volunteer to help others in their community.
You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.
Here at the Portland Public Library, we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy with the Civil Rights Film Series. Each Thursday in January we show a film from our California Newsreel Collection documenting the people and events of the Civil Rights Movement. On January 14, 2016, at 6:30 pm in the Rines Auditorium, we’ll be showing At the River I Stand, an account of the sanitation workers’ strike that led up to King’s fateful visit to Memphis.
The Public Computing department is thrilled to introduce 32 brand new patron computers to the Main Library, plus all new computers in the Children’s and Teen libraries and at the Riverton branch. These new machines run faster and smoother with all updated software, including Windows 7. Each desktop also includes quick links to Accessibility and Language settings, allowing patrons to tailor user experiences to accommodate a variety of needs and preferences.
Many of you requested more computer time, and we heard you! All patrons are now entitled to 90 minutes on the computer each day, rather than 60. (The only exceptions are the Children’s computers, which are still limited to one hour per day.)
Another popular demand has been the ability to scan directly to email, and we’ve recently installed this feature on our printer/copier. This can be used as a quick and easy method for digitizing your documents for personal storage or as a free alternative to faxing, and we’re excited to be able to offer it to the public.
PPL’s new Makerbot Replicator has been settling in nicely since October. Patrons of all ages are stopping by Public Computing to check on the latest print jobs: jointed action figures, replicas of skull fossils, cookie cutters, architectural models… and so much more. Come check it out!
January is resolution time. Everywhere you turn you’ll find tips and tricks for making and keeping those New Year’s Resolutions. The New Year gives us an opportunity to make changes and try new things. Portland Public Library has many free resources to help you keep your resolutions. Whether you have resolved to lose weight, exercise regularly, travel, be more creative, learn something new, find a new job, get out of debt, watch less TV, get more organized, live a simpler life, listen to more music, defeat a bad habit…We have what you need to get started on the right foot and stay on track. Achieve your goals and save money by using the resources available at the Portland Public Library!
Our online resources can help with anything from health and wellness, to learning a new language or changing careers. Our print collection is a great resource too, with thousands of materials to help you achieve the changes you seek. Just do a search for what you’re interested in: exercise, home improvement, self-improvement, diet, meditation, etc. You can also check out our lists, like this list of best selling health books.
Also, be sure to join us for a free program on January 5th @ 5:30 in meeting room 5. As part of the Health First initiative, the Library is happy to present Healthy Resolutions. Many people have limited or no experience with setting realistic goals for themselves so we’ve invited Ellie Foster from MaineHealth here to help you. In the pursuit of healthy lifestyle changes, many people set themselves up for failure by not having a clear, realistic pathway to success. This leads to frustration and self-doubt. Learn how setting small, achievable goals can boost confidence and lead to lasting lifestyle change.
Whatever goals you set for yourself, we wish you the best of luck!