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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. has always been one of my favorite political activists. I find his ideals on equality and nonviolent protests to be extremely inspiring. His words and actions still remain relevant in the ongoing fight for social justice, making him a man we as Americans should all respect. But sadly, as MLK Day approaches each year, I see people trivialize this important holiday. I’ve heard comments such as, “This isn’t a real holiday,” and seen school calendars which simply cite it as a “Winter Holiday.” This type of ignorance has run rampant for years, especially in the South. South Carolina, specifically, may be the worst of all when it comes to respecting this man. Martin Luther King Day was signed into law as a federal holiday in 1983 and the bill took affect three years later in 1986. It was not until 2000 that South Carolina signed a bill to recognize the day as a paid federal holiday. This makes South Carolina the last state to recognize this holiday officially. To make matters worse, during the nearly 15 years it took South Carolina to recognize MLK Day, they allowed employees to choose between celebrating one of three Confederate Holidays or MLK Day. In my opinion, this option allowed racism and oppression to grow in the South and cause a deeper racial divide — something King would have never agreed with. 

In 2020, this divide and disrespect is still found in South Carolina. One event that has hit me quite hard was a recent scandal at the University of South Carolina. Three white students posted a private Snapchat which used a racial slur to reference MLK Day, and it was later shared on many social media platforms. I was shocked by the ignorance and insensitivity, especially when I realized I knew two of the women in the picture. I have known one for nearly all my life and I could not believe she had done this. She’s the type of girl who was considered an all-around good person. She was a sports star, at the top of her class, and friends with almost everyone. But will she be remembered for that? No, because she allowed herself to participate in one of America’s biggest ongoing issues. The internet will forever remember her as a racist and that, not her accomplishments, will follow her in life. No matter how well you hide your prejudice, it will surface one day, especially with the rise of social media. So can we speak and think with kindness to prevent these kinds of disgusting scandals from occurring again?   

Zelda Proveaux is a freshman at the College of Charleston. She is majoring in Communications and wants to have a career in digital marketing. In her free time, Zelda enjoys listening to music and being around animals, especially cute pups!