Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” In honor of his legacy, MLK Day is recognized as a nationwide day of service.
With everything happening in the world, it’s more important than ever that we support one another. If you don’t have a go-to volunteer gig in your community, search online or call a local food bank, shelter, or religious organization. You can also check out VolunteerMatch, a nationwide database of service opportunities by zip code.
Volunteering isn’t the only way to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Here are some additional ways:
- Wake up Monday morning and watch Dr. King’s most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” delivered in 1963 at the March on Washington. This has become an annual tradition in my house and it never fails to move me to tears and motivate me to act.
- Read a book. One great recommendation I finished recently is lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy: A Story about Justice and Redemption“ about the prison system in the US. Another favorite is Harry Belafonte’s book “My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance“ which discusses using privilege and art to make real change. SO MANY books to read on your day off!
- Follow and read black journalists. Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times Magazine was recognized last year as a MacArthur Foundation fellow for her work covering racial segregation in the United States. Ta Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, is one of myth favorite writers in both voice and the way he challenges my worldview. Read Coates’s book “Between the World and Me,” a powerful letter to his son.
- Screen a movie. Invite friends over and stream Selma, Black Like Me, Ruby Bridges, Malcolm X, or Freedom Riders—these movies are all based on real events that happened here surprisingly recently. There are so many movies that relate to this important period of time and the continuing struggle of Americans to gain equal rights. Be creative and pick one that will get the most people into the room and then talk about it!
- Listen to a podcast. NPR’s Code Switch covers the intersection of race and culture. We Live Here examines race and class in St. Louis. Uncivil breaks down the untold stories of the Civil War. Each of these podcasts is fantastic and there are so many episodes I could recommend so just start from the beginning!
When you’re done, share whatever you watched, read, or listened to with your friends and family. Start a conversation about why you think they’re important. We need to actively remember why we have reserved a day of the year for Dr. King, his accomplishments, and the accomplishments of all individuals who have fought, are fighting, and will fight for what we called Civil Rights—a small piece of what we call Human Rights.
Lauren brings experience from across Rustic Pathways’ sales and operations, including as our Strategic Partnerships Manager and USA Country Director. She lives between two Caribbean cities—New Orleans and Santo Domingo—and spends time by the ocean in New England where she grew up. She is a Temple University alumnus and non-fiction reader. You can usually find her hosting unexpected parties, exploring cities, or hiking the bayous with her family.