Weathersfield, please honor the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday

Dear Editor,

I want the Weathersfield Selectboard to honor the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the third Monday in January. This Jan. 6, 2020, the Selectboard voted unanimously “to deny the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.”

At the time, it worried me a lot that Weathersfield would be so far behind the times and our leaders would vote that way. But being chair of the School Board, I had troubles of my own on Jan. 6 – hosting a budget discussion and community potluck and voting to approve the School District’s budget. Tough times. So I wasn’t at the Selectboard meeting that night to argue against denying the MLK holiday.

But like most of us, I was moved recently by what happened to George Floyd – his murder and the violent protests that followed – and so three weeks ago I called the chair of the Weathersfield Selectboard to ask why our town should not honor the Martin Luther King holiday. I asked if the board would reconsider. The chair did not commit to such a course, so I wrote to our town manager to ask him to press the Selectboard to reconsider their Jan. 6 action. That resulted in the matter being put on the Selectboard agenda this past Monday, June 15.

I am shocked and disturbed at what happened next. The Selectboard refused to reconsider its unanimous Jan. 6 vote “to deny the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.” The chair offered that the board “might” reconsider honoring the holiday “in the next budget season.” And then John Arrison made a motion that the board should “move on” from this discussion.

I told them that is not good enough, and now I want to tell all of your readers, especially the ones who live in Weathersfield, that “moving on” from the question of honoring the MLK holiday is not good enough.

The thing is Martin Luther King is not only our country’s greatest leader for civil rights and racial equality; he is also our greatest leader for nonviolence. That’s what I was thinking about when I saw those pictures of the Minneapolis Police Station burning: that this violence and hatred is not good enough; that there is a better way; and that Martin Luther King is the one above all who showed us the better way. Our town should honor the federal holiday that turns our whole nation’s attention toward equality, justice, and peace. We should honor Martin Luther King. Weathersfield Selectboard, I beg you, again, to get on the right side of history.

Sincerely,

Sean Whalen

Weathersfield, Vt.

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