“Named” holidays, or those created to honor a specific individual, have been under fire recently by woke and progressive activists. Columbus Day and President’s day both have had issues in the past.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the most recent holiday to spark controversy, with leftist and woke activists dictating who should and should not be able to celebrate, talk about, or in this case, write about the holiday celebrating King’s life and legacy.
The University of Montana found this recent trend out the hard way after a well-intentioned essay contest was derided by leftists on Twitter and other sites. The contest was designed to give students a chance to write about the Civil Rights legend. The problem for progressives, though, is that the winning essay was written by a white student.
According to the College Fix, the announcement of the contest winners led to immediate social media backlash against both the winners and the school. The topic of the essay was to write about how students were “implementing Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy” at the school. There were four winners selected, all were white, according to the student newspaper.
The University announced the winners and showcased the results on their Facebook page, which led to immediate issues. Over a thousand comments lambasted the University for their contest, the winners and the makeup of the student body in general.
One commenter wrote “Jesus Christ this is shameful and embarrassing, and I say that as a pasty ass white girl.” Another asked how one could “think remembering the legacy of MLK Jr. is achieved by giving four white girls a shout out.”
There’s just one problem with the outrage. All of the winners were white because all of the essays entered were submitted by white students. This was an optional contest, and none of the University’s black students entered.
The contest was created by the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee to celebrate the impact the legendary figure made on youth today. The committee is headed by the lead professor of the school’s African-American studies program and the Black Student Union. The contest was open to all, and according to the advising professor, designed to encourage all to honor King’s message and his memory.
“The intention was to challenge the entire UM community to take King’s actual legacy seriously, rather than to encourage volunteerism as has been done in the past,” according to the school
Like most essay contests, this one used a blind judging system, so writer’s identities were not included during the judging. It would not have impacted the outcome or the outrage, even if entrants’ names had been revealed, since all entrants were white.
After the outcry, the college removed the photo of the winners and replaced it with an updated post that states:
“All walks of life and races were invited to submit essays,” and indicates that all entrants were white students, resulting in an all-white group of winners.