Why I Hated Martin Luther King Jr.

image of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
My childhood nemisis
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are some people who have birthdays at inconvenient times. Some were born on or near Christmas or during some national tragedy like those born on September 11th. There are others who were born on leap day so they can only celebrate the actual day of their birth in years that are evenly divisible by 4. Back when I was in elementary school, my birthday conflicted with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Why did he have to be born the day after me? Martin Luther King Jr. ruined my childhood.

In my elementary school when someone had a birthday, they would bring in a treat for their classmates. The birthday boy or girl would get some kind of hat. The usual in my school was the paper crown you could get for free at any Burger King restaurant. We would also get to be first in line for recess, lunch, and for bathroom breaks. Then at a certain time, usually just after lunch the class would sing “Happy Birthday” and nosh on the treats. It was a special day and one I wanted to have very badly.

Now some out there will say, “But Doug, Martin Luther King Jr. Day wasn’t an observed holiday until 1986, when you were a Senior in High School.”

Yes, MLK Day wasn’t a Federal holiday until 1986 but in the late 70’s when I was in elementary school, our district observed the day. It was usually a Monday closest to his actual birthday. Once or twice my birthday fell on the observed holiday.

Now some might say, “But Doug, if the holiday was on your birthday then isn’t that better? You get a day off of school.”

Did you read what was part of the Birthday celebration? If I’m at home then I have no one to make me feel special. I’m automatically at the head of the line by default. What fun is that?

“But what about the kids who had birthdays in the summer or during school breaks?”

Sucks to be them. This is about me!

“I’m sorry you hate Martin Luther King Jr. He was a great man.”

I don’t hate him now. Back when I was a kid I wasn’t mature enough to realize how great he was. Today he is a hero of mine and I’m glad we have a Federal Holiday in his honor. The only other great people who have specific holidays are Presidents Washington and Lincoln so MLK is in good company.

Besides now that I think about it, a natural gas crisis and a blizzard in 1977 also prevented me from celebrating my birthday at school.

Get Mother Nature on the phone, Mom!