On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 20, choose to do what’s right.
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 on these values, while still spending time with friends and family.
Volunteer in your community. Dr. King said: "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve." You can serve your community through one of the many volunteer opportunities available in our community. Volunteering is a great way to impact your neighbors while reaping positive benefits yourself. Check out volunteer options here.
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), and Free at Last: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull (middle school).
Looking for a book of your own? Try The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Claybourne Carson or Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Last Interview and Other Conversations.
Call your legislators. Dr. King knew that legislation was key to his fight for justice and equality. Without the political support to back it up, change on a systemic level won’t last. 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.
Find your local legislators here.
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 the issues facing the African American and other communities in your area. These events are also a great place to meet new people and hear about the experiences of others in your community.
Find local MLK Day events here.
Educate yourself on equity, diversity and inclusion. Join the national conversation exploring these issues. 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.
Educating yourself about diversity, race, or privilege can sometimes feel awkward, especially when you are working through understanding and discussing issues you might not fully understand. That’s ok. Take a deep breath and jump in. You can start with one of these six ways to be antiracist from award-winning scholar Ibram X. Kendi or one of these race conversation starters from Race Forward. The more we educate ourselves on equity, diversity and inclusion, the easier the conversations become.
Give back. United Way of Greater Knoxville 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.