Council approves MLK Day as official holiday for City of Salem
SALEM – Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday is now an official holiday for the City of Salem. Even though it had been on the national and state calendars for several years, until Salem City Council’s action April 26 the day had been a “floating holiday” for city employees.
In other words, they could take off that day or another time during the year, and city offices remained open.
A contingent of about 35 black Salem residents applauded Monday night after Council unanimously approved King’s birthday and Veterans Day as city holidays and closures.
“I’m happy because Martin Luther King Jr. fought very hard for civil rights for our country,” said Marzetta F. Sinkler, one of the citizens at the meeting. “His birthday is a national holiday anyway so why shouldn’t Salem City honor him?”
Nancy Wilson agreed. “We had a meeting with the mayor and city manager this past Friday, indicating what we wanted,” she explained.
The citizens’ spokesman at that meeting was the Rev. Melton W. Johnson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Salem. “I’m elated,” the pastor said after the meeting. “I feel like we’re coming full circle, a black town manager to a black holiday.”
He referred to Forest Jones, Salem’s first black city manager, who retired in 2008 and turned over the reins to current Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess who met with the group, along with Mayor Randy Foley.
Usually Salem students have a school holiday on Martin Luther King Day in January, but this year attended school in order to make up one of the days they missed due to snow.
For more details from the April 26 Salem City Council meeting, see the April 29 issue of the Salem Times-Register.