The Story, and a Little Controversy, Behind Idaho Human Rights Day
Idaho Human Rights Day is special that we celebrate only in the gem state. So what is it exactly? How did it get started, what does it mean and how should we celebrate?
According to National Today, "Governor Dirk Kempthorne started Idaho Human Rights Day on January 16, 2006. It is celebrated close to (or on) the birthday of the famous civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. In Idaho, the day is known as Martin Luther King Jr. — Idaho Human Rights Day."
It is a day that the gem state celebrates everyone and what civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. stood for and the great changes he started. Idaho started officially celebrating and honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the 1990's, the short video clip in the below facebook post tells more.
National Today goes on to say, "He inspired the whole world to celebrate diversity and fight oppression. Idaho Human Rights Day is a celebration of his legacy."
Wikipedia says, "Idaho Human Rights Day is a state holiday recognized only in the U.S. state of Idaho. It was created on January 16, 2006, by then Governor and former United States Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne. The holiday is celebrated simultaneously each year on the same day as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The full name of this holiday in the state of Idaho is Martin Luther King, Jr. - Idaho Human Rights Day."
Last KTVB year reported on The complicated history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Idaho noting that Idaho was the 47th state to recognize MLK Day as a state holiday and it soon after, it officially became “Martin Luther King Jr. – Idaho Human Rights Day” in Idaho. As far as the controversy behind it. KTVB spoke to Phillip Thompson, the executive director of the Idaho Black History Museum who is a third-generation Idaho native. He said, “I think that people are fearful of they’re trying to diminish or take away from the holiday being simply a Martin Luther King observance. Others would argue that Martin Luther King’s struggle was a struggle for human rights as it applied to not just black people, but people as a whole. So conflating the two isn’t necessarily a smack in the face."
A few places note some controversy with Idaho Human Rights Day being celebrated or hyphened with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. According to Holidays Calendar, "Idaho Human Rights Day is a holiday that falls on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and is a state holiday in Idaho. Although this holiday’s inclusion on the third Monday in January is somewhat controversial to some people because of it coexisting next to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this holiday is designed to embrace diversity and promote human rights." There are quite a few Idaho businesses and government agencies that use the hashtag #idahohumanrightsday with #MLK and #Martinlutherkingjr.
As you can see in the post below, "The Downtown Boise Association hung banners, partially inspired by the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, adorned with portraits of Anne Frank and messages of “We Are Everywhere,” “We Choose Love,” and “Love Is Everywhere.” Idahoans once again unified under the statement made in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Many visited the memorial that day to pay their respects by placing flowers and lighting candles."
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As far as Celebrating the website goes on to say, "This holiday is often celebrated with special events, speeches, and even parades or musical events with tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. and other human rights activists are printed in newspapers, online, and on TV."
Idaho Schools and Idaho government offices and businesses are closed in observance of the day. Idaho follows, "The Human Rights Commission enforces laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that make it illegal to discriminate against people in the workplace, housing, public accommodation and education because of race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability and age."
There is a concert tonight to celebrate!
You are able to stream it live through youtube here: