A day on, not a day off.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, January 17, 2022, marks the 27th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday – the national day of service to remember, celebrate and act!
It is a day that was established to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve the communities in which they live.
Since Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, he has become a symbol of human and civil rights in the U.S.
More than 1,000 streets carry his name, in addition to several schools and other civic institutions to recognize his legacy and work toward equal rights, civil liberties, and social justice for all. Every year we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s widely known just accomplishments, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These actions involve recognizing health as a human right and recognizing him as one of the early leaders of what we now call environmental justice.
As we observe the environmental justice movement today, the same social rights Dr. King advocated are fundamental in the movement’s focus on the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people in society. Environmental justice seeks to achieve two essential goals: proper treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income concerning the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. To summarize, everyone should be entitled to equal protection from health and environmental hazards and have the same access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
Virtual Visits and Sources of Inspiration
To help teach and celebrate the occasion and the meaning of King’s life, here are some virtual tours and resources of Martin Luther King’s memorial in Washington, D.C. and his childhood home in Atlanta, GA.
Celebrate with a “day on” in your local community
- The National Archives shares references, discussion questions, and more.
- “A day on, not a day off” – AmeriCorps has a searchable database of MLK day volunteer opportunities available around the country.
- EngageNWA – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in NWA
- Northwest Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Council – A calendar of King Day events
- Arkansas Soul – Arkansas MLK Day Events 2022
Fund those on the front lines
- If volunteering is not an option this year, consider donating to organizations working year-round to support the social justice causes Dr. King dedicated his life to.
- The Equal Justice Initiative works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.
- The National Urban League has fought for African Americans and others for more than 100 years.
Take part in history
- Reflect on the words of Dr. King from his August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.
- The Smithsonian Institution and Library of Congress are looking for volunteers to transcribe historical documents digitally.
- The projects range from African American history and women’s suffrage to the personal letters and journals of historical figures.
- The National Park Service, which manages the national MLK monument and MLK birthplace, offers several digital resources around historic sites, both from Dr. King’s life and the American struggle for civil rights. Including the Selma Montgomery National Historical Trail and the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.
Learn from King’s legacy
- The King Center is holding a global “Teach-In.” The center offers educators access to lesson plans and activities on the work, teachings and philosophies of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.
- National Geographic Kids shares a comprehensive outline for covering the basics of King’s life and times in this simple presentation.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: A virtual tour of the memorial.
Do something good!
Take some time to write thank-you letters or show your appreciation to those working on the front lines.