January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, a federal holiday that celebrates the birthday, life and achievements of the famous leader and minister for civil rights.
MLK Day comes at a particularly turbulent time in American history, with the country still reeling from the Capitol Riot and the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency. Many would consider Trump’s presidency to be a step backwards for race relations in the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement has been reinvigorated after the unjust deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked hundreds of protests across the country. MLK’s fight is far from over.
Understandably, media across America and the world have reported on the day and reflected on MLK’s legacy. That’s why we have these kinds of observances: to elicit some self-reflection.
Speaking of thinkingâ¦ MLK’s Rolex was pretty darn shiny. And many American media are wrong in their coverage. In fact, it’s happened so many times now that it’s not only predictable but rather infuriating how many articles have been devoted to MLK’s watch rather than him as a person or the importance of the watch. daytime. It happens every year, but this year it seems particularly disappointing, especially given the current situation in the United States.
Let’s get it straight: MLK wore a gold Rolex Datejust (Ref. 1601) with a âJubileeâ bracelet for several of his public appearances. The watch’s provenance is not certain: some sources suggest it was gifted to him by other activists, while others claim the brand or a dealer gave it to him. In any case, it is not clear. What is clear is that the watch he wore the most was a simple Timex part – much more in keeping with his status (and means) as a minister.
Of course, it is a beautiful watch. But to spend all that oxygen talking about it is completely missing out on MLK Day or the man himself.
It seems obvious to say but MLK was not the man he was because he had good taste in watches. Trying to link MLK’s heritage to its Rolex is tenuous at best, and trivializing it at worst.
Much of Rolex’s advertising over the past half century has focused on the way executives; innovators; successful people wear their watches. Indeed, they even included MLK in a 2013 campaign alongside other famous Rolex owners like Pablo Picasso and Tiger Woods. Rolex clearly has an interest in partnering with such figures, and why shouldn’t they? They are just factually correct.
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But what a lot of the media completely miss – or fail to spell out in their coverage of the MLK watch – is that success breeds the Rolex, not the other way around.
MLK himself would find it particularly ironic that so much energy was devoted to talking about his gold watch, especially since he was known to be anti-materialist and democratic socialist.
Maybe we are too hard. To be devil’s advocate, isn’t it good that people at least talk about MLK, even if the path is a bit empty? That not only Americans but the international media are covering him and his activism so positively is actually a sign of progressâ¦ Even though we have a long way to go.
All we can hope for is that all the media coverage will lead to healthy self-reflection and debate in the United States (and elsewhere).
Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday, January 20.