Celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
“We call you to commemorate this Holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.” – Coretta Scott King
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. Although it was signed into law in January 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was accepted and celebrated in all 50 states. Today, the King holiday is celebrated in U.S. installations and is observed by more than 100 other nations.
The national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is a celebration of Dr. King’s immeasurable contribution to the United States and to humankind. Celebrated on the third Monday of January, the King Holiday is a time when the nation pauses to remember Dr. King’s life and work, and to honor his legacy by making it a day of community and humanitarian service. This year, the holiday falls on Monday, January 15th. The day should highlight remembrance and celebration, while encouraging people everywhere to reflect on the principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. Here are some ways you could celebrate Martin Luther King Day this year:
· Create decorations of many colors. If you have younger children or grandchildren, make some classic paper chains to use as birthday decorations. Use black, white, red, yellow, and brown construction paper to represent the various skin tones found across our nation. Be sure to explain the symbolism behind the craft.
· Take to the streets. Plan a walk to raise money for a local charity or nonprofit organization that you and your children care about. Ask relatives and neighbors to sponsor your family for a certain amount of money per block. Although the cause may be different than those Dr. King fought for, the message should be the same: “When we all march together, we can change things."
· Visit a different house of worship. Promote religious tolerance by taking your family to a church, temple, or synagogue other than your own. If you're Baptist, attend a Roman Catholic Mass. If you're Methodist, attend Saturday morning Shabbat services at a local synagogue. Discuss the common threads you observe and promote the message: "Even though we sing different hymns, we all believe in the same God.”
· Participate in the Martin Luther King Day of Service. Find a project in your community and serve in any number of ways, such as serving food at a homeless shelter or volunteering to help clean up the local park.
Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is an opportunity to remember his life and the important work he did, as well as an opportunity to keep his dream alive by passing his legacy on to future generations.