Monday, January 15, 2018 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day set aside to honor the legacy of the civil rights icon. Last week, the president issued the customary official proclamation marking the day, but he shouldn’t get any brownie points for doing so, no matter how furiously he wants to assert otherwise. It’s his job.
Any statement that he offered on the occasion of the holiday was bound to be controversial, since Trump boasts a long history of expressing support for racist causes. His ideas that a Muslim targeting travel ban and a wall between us and Mexico are needed have no real world justification — they’re just manifestations of racism. Immigrants aren’t out to get us, no matter how many times that the president wants to assert otherwise.
He didn’t even type out any personal message on the occasion of the holiday, opting to stick with purely official channels for his recognition of the day. It’s not as though that is the only reason to be concerned about the lack of leadership from the White House, but it’s emblematic of the fact that Trump ignores the responsibility of the president to be the actual leader of the country and not just a racist signaler.
In that light, there’s a leadership void, and this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, New York Democratic U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand worked to fill that void.
On Monday, she participated in the National Action Network’s annual MLK Day forum alongside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer,
In conjunction with that, she issued a statement posted to Twitter calling on Americans to pick up the mantle left behind by Dr. King and use it to keep pressing forward no matter the threats.
Her statement reads, in part:
‘As we celebrate the remarkable legacy, work, and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we recognize the progress our country has made in the last 50 years. And in a year that has tested our resolve, we’re reminded of the work still left to be done. We owe it to Dr. King to keep standing against bigotry, to condemn hateful attacks on people of color, to condemn racist rhetoric from our president or anyone else. And we must always remember that our children are watching and listening to how we respond.’