Inspiring Educators Who Inspire Future Leaders
“I’d like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others.” “I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life…to love and serve humanity.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ebenezer Baptist Church, February 4, 1968.
Monday, January 20, marks Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the National Day of Service honoring the work and legacy of Dr. King. The first MLK Day of Service took place in 1994, and since its inception, thousands of people across the country have spent the day giving back in their communities. Monday’s National Day of Service has special meaning this year because it will mark its 25th anniversary as a federal holiday.
When framing the importance of the MLK Day of Service, Coretta Scott King believed “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.” It must give “a vibrant, multiracial nation of children from every race [a chance to] walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
There is much to be said about Dr. King’s vision of a unified nation, but perhaps his biggest question remains “what are you doing for others.” I believe it is this question that should be at the center of what children learn about Dr. King’s legacy because his life was about giving in the service of others. On Monday, there are many opportunities to learn more about Dr. King’s life and work in cities across the country. I challenge everyone to participate in activities that provide a direct impact on the lives of others like working in a shelter, reading at a nursing facility, or mentoring a child in need. These are a few ways to demonstrate a life of service for the next generation.
Ultimately, Dr. King believed true service to others was the highest proof of greatness. As we begin the second half of the 21st century, let’s all strive to be “more other-centered than self-centered.” Don’t let Monday be a day off; but, a day on in honor of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tlb
#MLK Day #servicelearning