On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, choose to do what's right

Dedicating a few hours to follow Dr. King's example isn't a big challenge

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Dedicating a few hours to follow Dr. King’s example isn’t a big challenge. But it does mean prioritizing justice, love, and service: three of King’s most important values.

Here are several ways you can focus your day (or any day of the week) on these values, while still spending time with friends and family.

1. Volunteer.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day honors service to others. United Way offers local volunteer opportunities to help others throughout the year. Bring your friends and family to reinforce the value of service.

2. Read a book to a child.

Help spread Dr. King’s message to the next generation by reading a book about Dr. King to a child in your life. Some good options include:

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer (pre-K through 2nd grade)

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport (elementary school)

Free at Last: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull (middle school)

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Claybourne Carson (adult)

3. Call your legislators.

Dr. King knew that legislation was key to his fight for justice and equality. Without political support to back it up, systemic change can’t happen. Call or write your state or national representatives to express your opinion and offer your support for initiatives that focus on the health, education, and financial stability of all Americans.

4. Go to a local event honoring MLK.

Cities across the nation will be holding gatherings, luncheons, concerts, exhibits, and lectures on January 20. Attend one of these with your family or friends to learn more about Dr. King and to be inspired to change your world. These events are also a great place to meet new people and hear about the experiences of others in your community.

5. Educate yourself on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Sometimes the terms and discussions about diversity can be complicated and difficult to understand. But the main goal is to ensure that everyone gets the chance they deserve, no matter their race, gender, or background. A conversation about diversity, race, or privilege can sometimes feel awkward (that's okay), especially when you are working through understanding and discussing issues you might not fully understand. The more we educate ourselves on equity, diversity, and inclusion, the easier the conversations become.

6. Give back.

United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. That’s something Dr. King would be proud of. And something you can be proud of, too. Join the fight by making a donation today.

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