Make it a day ON not a day off

On Monday, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is an official day of service and celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. At Media Cause we recognize the federal holiday and give the day back to employees to honor Dr. King and reflect on his impact on the endless fight for social and economic justice and progress. Martin Luther King Day is more than a day off, or “holiday”, it’s a day for each of us to connect to the life and teachings of Dr. King and serve in our communities.

The year is young, but our communities have already suffered greatly – insurrections in the capitol building, a pandemic that continues to be a major threat, record-high unemployment rates, racial and economic injustice. Observing the MLK federal holiday through service is a way to begin the year with a commitment to making our communities a better place.

Coretta Scott King provided a vision of how the holiday should be observed: “The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration . . . Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress.” 

Here are some ideas and resources to help jumpstart reflection, learning, and continued involvement: 

Reflection:

Whether you are donating goods or money, volunteering in your community, or committing to continued service throughout the year, ask and reflect on these questions.

  • “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
  • Why are you serving today? Why do you serve?
  • What is the connection between Dr. King’s legacy and honoring him by serving others?
  • What are some ways you can continue to honor Dr. King throughout the year?

Documentaries about economic justice: 

  • Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class – “Have Black Americans had a fair shot at the American dream?” acclaimed journalist Bob Herbert asks. The question is explored through the harsh and often brutal discrimination that has made it extremely difficult for African-Americans to establish a middle-class standard of living.
  • Left Behind America – Their story is one of the many Rust Belt cities often overlooked by mainstream media trying to recover in the post-recession economy. FRONTLINE and ProPublica report on the economic and social forces shaping Dayton, Ohio, a once-booming city where nearly 35 percent of people now live in poverty.
  • Eye on the Prize Originally broadcast on PBS as a 14-part documentary series, Eyes on the Prize follows the American civil rights movement from the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision through the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965 and the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, to the 1983 election of Harold Washington as the first African-American mayor of Chicago. The series, through archival footage and interviews with participants and opponents of the movement, paints a vivid portrait of a shifting American society with incredible depth.

Learn from and teach key speeches, writings, and letters from MLK:

Join webinars to further expand your learning:

Read articles/blogs and listen to podcasts:

Involvement & Service:

“Everyone can be great because everybody can serve” – Martin Luther King Jr. Recognize the power and greatness of service and its ability to bring together people of all ages, races, gender, and backgrounds.   

Commit yourself to a day and a year of service! Can’t serve? Make a pledge and share how you plan to serve this year.  

Here are a few simple service ideas to get you started: 

  • Donate food to a local shelter
  • Deliver food to community members
  • Give blood
  • Volunteer with a local, state, or national park 
  • Pick up garbage on the beach, in a park, in a green space
  • Make disaster preparedness kits
  • Donate to a local organization. Have the means? Make it monthly
  • Write letters to seniors in senior living facilities
  • Shovel elderly neighbors’ walkways, clear leaves or help with other yard maintenance
  • Find other ideas near you here