Ways to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday every year in January. This year, 2022, it falls on January 17th. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or, MLK, is well renowned all over the world. He used a nonviolent approach to push toward racial equality during his time in leadership of the American Civil Rights Movement. While rebelling against inequality of all forms, Dr. King strictly used resistance that did not involve forms of violence. The power of his words rippled out into drastic change in the United States, including the ending of racial segregation and voting barriers for African Americans.
Sometimes, with national holidays, it can be a little too easy to bypass the meaning of the day itself. With MLK Day coming up on January 17th, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday on January 15th, there are a number of ways to honor the great work done by this pivotal figure. Racial injustices still occur today, so gaining a deeper understanding of someone who was able to instigate significant change may help us better serve our community.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. utilized a technique that many of his peers may have doubted: nonviolence. According to the nonprofit The King Center, “Nonviolence is a love-centered way of thinking and acting that leads to personal, cultural and societal transformation.” The approach targets the injustices occurring, rather than the people perpetuating it. It prioritizes finding justice in a system, rather than retaliating towards those who default toward harmful or detrimental views.
Nonviolence may sound like an easy concept to grasp. However, there are nuances to this approach that may benefit anybody looking to be an ally when confronted with present-day injustices. Concepts of nonviolence could even provide you with the confidence needed to do the right thing, in such a situation where that would be required. If you would like to learn directly from the source, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story written by Martin Luther King, Jr. features an entire chapter on his beliefs around the strength of nonviolence as a way to resist injustice without violence on any level.
Additionally, there are modern resources furthering Dr. King’s work on nonviolence. Nonviolence365® Training, provided by The King Center, provides both virtual and live training for applying nonviolent approaches to both personal and organizational contexts.
Monetary donations are essential for keeping nonprofits up and running. If the time commitment for taking a full virtual training or reading a book isn’t viable, a donation to a nonprofit could be another great way to honor MLK Day. There are a number of nonprofits working toward similar visions that Martin Luther King, Jr. had, in a modern-day context.
There is The King Center, which was started by Corretta Scott King, and is presently run by Dr. Bernice A. King. Additionally, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was one of Dr. King’s earliest partners. They are still active today and address issues like police brutality and Black voter suppression.
Some major cities offer various types of celebrations in honor of MLK Day. For example, Denver (right in Bluebird Botanicals’ backyard) holds an annual MLK Day parade and celebration, called The Marade. This event has been going on for 37 years and seeks “to unify and educate communities within the State of Colorado and encourage appropriate observations, ceremonies and activities in commemoration of the federal holiday and state legal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. throughout all the towns, cities, school districts, counties and local governments within Colorado.”
If there are no scheduled events near you, or you’re not looking to be in a public space, there are alternative ways to celebrate. Taking some time to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s lectures on YouTube could be a celebration in itself. The incredibly revered “I Have a Dream” speech and his Nobel Peace Prize lecture are both easily accessible and thoroughly capture the heart of MLK Day.
While Dr. Martin Luther King changed the world and furthered civil rights, there are still a number of injustices committed against people of color in the present day. MLK Day can be a great opportunity for taking some time to learn how to step up as an ally. George Washington University offers an extensive amount of resources on allyship, including books, lectures, and videos. Many people have experiences that could be beneficial for the community to hear, so dedicating some time to receiving that communication is invaluable as well.
Dr. Martin Luther King was able to revolutionize the United States of America’s attitude toward civil rights without using any violence or slander. He sought a love-based approach, and prioritized friendship over pointing out enemies. It took time, but his tactics saw great success. In a day and age where oppression still takes place, recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his peaceful yet sharp brilliance can assist us all in becoming better community members and warriors against oppression.