10 Easy Things You Could Do On MLK Day To Honor the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. Listen to a whole MLK speech.
When we only see the popular quotes pulled from his speeches, we are in danger of consuming a sanitized version of Dr. King that makes us comfortable. Listening to Dr. KIng’s words in full protect us from distilling his speeches down to platitudes.
2. Read Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
This letter is uncanny in its timelessness. Dr. King’s eloquent words, written from a jail cell, echo through the decades to call us out of our commitment to a kind of “negative peace” that ignores injustice.
3. Read articles from The Guardian’s series on Anti-Racism.
I particularly appreciated Ibram X Kendi’s piece on building an Anti-Racist America and Robin DiAngelo’s on our tendency as white people to equate niceness with being “not racist.” I would say that my commitment to “niceness” and to being perceived as a “nice person” has been the single greatest hurdle in my journey towards eradicating racial bias from my own dark heart. Whenever I am more worried about whether someone thinks I am nice or about if we can all just be nice to one another, I am clouding my vision from being able to see the insidious white supremacy in the room, especially if it’s coming from me.
4. Read this article from an agent of mercy being arrested at our southern border.
The truth is that the “soul of the nation” has been deeply disturbed for 500 years. Despite rhetoric in our founding documents that “all men are created equal,” the legacy of our history is one of deep denial. We all live on stolen land and reside in a society built from stolen labor. Our country was founded on the legacy of dispossession and settler colonialism, rooted in a belief that some are deserving of rights, but only some.
6. Donate money to an organization that is devoted to justice and that is run by a person of color.
Two organizations I love right now that are doing amazing work are Bryan Stevenson’s Equality Justice Initiative and Susan Burton’s A New Way of Life. If you want to be compelled by the work of these two individuals, they both have amazing books out that detail the work they are doing: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Becoming Ms. Burton by Susan Burton.
7. Order The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby.
This important book, which I’ve already talked about on the blog, releases tomorrow.
8. Support a business in your town today that is owned by a person or family of color.
This is an easy one! If you eat out or shop today, be intentional about spending those dollars in a way that makes a tiny dent in the enormous racial wealth gap in our country. (If you live in North Little Rock, you could eat lunch at Lindsey’s BBQ. I get the catfish platter every time!)
9. Follow Dr. King’s daughter, Bernice King, on Twitter.
I am amazed at how she is both consistently a voice for justice and manages to give wisdom that is unfettered by bitterness. She honors both of her parents’ legacies with grace.
10. Join The Poor People’s Campaign.
This campaign is literally the continuation of Dr. King’s unfinished work. It’s based on a campaign by the same name that he started shortly before his life was taken. Being a part of this campaign has been an incredible learning experience for me. I would say one of the most important things I have learned is how much more complicated and lengthy the process is towards lasting change. I think it’s easy to simplify Dr. King’s life (and the Civil Rights Movement), but walking through the process of being involved in the PPC has helped me greater appreciate the long slog it is to push against racism and injustice.
Thank you Dr. King for working to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is heaven, even unto death.