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On the broader legacy of Dr. King

A detail from a mural with an image of Martin Luther King, Jr.
A detail from a mural with an image of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Photo by TK/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Among the many pieces that ran this weekend in anticipation of today's holiday honoring the civil rights legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the more interesting ones involved a series of letters from readers published in USA Today's opinion section.

Readers were asked to write about what King meant to them, with their responses published over a two day period. The responses included this one, from Aurora Ramirez Krodel in Cincinnati:

A fight for rights of all Americans

"This holiday honoring Martin Luther King has nothing to do with us," said my older sister's co-worker, a newer immigrant from Mexico. "He only helped the black people." "Oh, no!" my sister responded. "If it hadn't been for Martin Luther King, you and I wouldn't be free."

My sister explained how, when she lived in Texas in the early '60s, Mexican Americans had to drink from separate drinking fountains and attend schools for Mexicans. She also recalled a restaurant in Florida that wouldn't allow Mexicans to eat inside. They could order food, but they had to eat it outside in their cars.

Every year, as my children grow in understanding, I share these stories with them. They know that King didn't fight just for the equal treatment of African Americans, he fought for the rights and freedom of all Americans.

Mil gracias, Dr. King.

The federal holiday commemorating King's birthday and life legacy has been declared a national day of service. A list of Los Angeles-area events in The Huffington Post includes several volunteer opportunities. The Los Angeles Times also has a list of observances, including the annual Kingdom Day Parade that culminates with a festival in Leimert Park. King would have been 82 on Jan. 15.