Today, and every third Monday of January for the past 38 years, has been dedicated to Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Who was born on this day in 1929 and spent the majority of his life preaching the good word and inspiring others with his breathtaking speeches for the fight for freedom. Years later, his memory still lives on, inspiring other Civil Rights activists to follow in his footsteps with peaceful protests and powerful statements. Today is not only a day of remembrance but also celebration. Celebration for how far we’ve come since Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the Lincoln Memorial Steps and spoke about his now-renowned “dream”. Here are five things you can do today to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday.
1. Join In A March
Martin Luther King Jr. knew the power of a peaceful protest. Joining in on the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and making waves at the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery Marches. Every year, cities from all over the country host Marches as a way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his inspiring activism. Due to weather issues, Austin’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is postponed til January 27th, but it will go from 11 AM to 3:30 PM, as the crowd marches from the University of Texas’ MLK statue all the way to the steps of the capitol. The event is free, paired with a fun festival and food drive. If you’re not in the Austin area, I encourage you to look into your city and see what commemorative events are happening in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.
2. Rewatch His Speeches
For this step, look no further than the video above this section! Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches are an essential part of American History. Setting the scene for the realities of segregation, in many ways the world we exist in (though still rife with systemic racism and discrimination) is a world Martin Luther King Jr. could only dream of. I’d encourage you to listen to his speeches on a walk, looking around the people in your neighborhood. The diversity that you get to exist with, and pay tribute to not only Martin Luther King Jr. but all the activists who laid down their lives so people who looked like them could have a better one.
“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.”
I Have A Dream, 1963
3. Visit A Martin Luther King Jr. Statue
While there is the major Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, there are also plenty of other memorials, statues, and commemorative parks to visit and pay your respects. As previously stated, the University of Houston has a Martin Luther King Jr. statue, but they’re by no means the only state, or campus, to have their own art piece in honor of the activist. In fact, there are five in Atlanta, Georgia alone. For a comprehensive list of the most notable check out this piece by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and find which statue is closest to you! Maybe a road trip is in order.
4. Volunteer In His Name
There are plenty of organizations and nonprofits that align with Martin Luther King Jr.’s core message. Maybe this year isn’t just about joining the March but volunteering at it. Dedicating your time and energy into empowering those around you, and raising up the Civil Rights movement in whatever way you can. Get to know the organizations in your neighborhood, and maybe by this time next year, you’ll be an activist all on your own.
5. Support His “Dream”
Martin Luther King Jr. may no longer be around, but his dream is still just as relevant today as it was back in 1963. The injustices he was facing haven’t gone away, they’ve just evolved. The Civil Rights era isn’t in the past, it’s an unfortunate constant. We’re always fighting for more rights, more visibility, and less discrimination for BIPOC citizens. This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, if you don’t want to leave the house, look into some Civil Rights Organizations and donate to them. The fight for freedom is a long one, but you can help aid in it by supporting his dream. The Civil Rights Project has an amazing list of Civil Rights Organizations that could use your help!
So how are you choosing to celebrate this Martin Luther King Jr. Day?