When President Bill Clinton in 1994 signed the King Holiday and Service Act, he and others urged people to make the holiday celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “A day On, not a day Off.”
In other words, people should use that day – and even the weekend before it – as a time of service, not just another vacation day.
So what are some things to do?
Service and thoughtfulness
We have a list of events, but first, here are some ideas about other things to do in providing service to others.
Martin Luther King Day is the only federal holiday that also is an official national day of service (Sept. 11, the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, is another day of service, but it’s not a federal holiday).
National leaders, and those who follow most closely in the Civil Rights footsteps of Dr. King, encourage people to make Monday a time to serve others, learn about his legacy, and reflect on how to make the world a better place.
In Louisville, the Muhammad Ali Center will be celebrating King’s legacy (and Ali’s 81st birthday, Tuesday, Jan. 17) on Monday in a few ways. The center, at 144 N. Sixth St., will host a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and asks people to celebrate Ali’s lifelong spirit of giving by donating blood.
From 11:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday, admission to the center will be free. At noon, there will be a screening of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, followed by a panel of the center’s Council of Students” discussing ways to carry on the legacy of King and Ali. Other screenings of the speech will follow at 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m.
Here’s another idea to help create positive change:
The Points of Light organization, founded by former President George H.W. Bush, has suggested organizing Sunday Suppers, which are inspired by Dr. King’s vision that people of diverse backgrounds should come together to discuss injustices of the day and create a plan for action. That would let people engage in dialogue about issues affecting their communities. “Conversations, a form of civic engagement, about pressing topics are important because they are often the starting point for change,” the organization wrote.
In other places, organizations are putting together events, such as clean-ups of parks.
The U.S. Department of the Interior offers these tips on ways to help others:
- Donate or Volunteer Safely with Food Banks and Pantries - Visit Feeding America or Food Pantries to find an organization near you.
- Deliver Meals and Groceries to Vulnerable Seniors.
- Donate Medical Supplies and Equipment – If you have donations, email FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stay in Touch - Check on your neighbors, friends, and family, especially those older or maybe alone. A phone call, text, or a conversation through the door could brighten their day.
- Serve in Your Community – Visit your State Service Commission’s website for details.
- Volunteer from Home – Check out AllForGood.org for service ideas.
Some other MLK Day events
Here are some of Louisville’s MLK Day events, compiled by ERS’ Emily Lorentz:
- MLK Day Celebration – The Playhouse, 1911 S. 3rd, Louisville, Ky., Monday, Jan. 16, 1-2 p.m. “Come enjoy free performances celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.”https://events.louisville.edu/event/mlk_day_celebration_2023?utm_campaign=widget#.Y7w313bMKUl
- Celebrate MLK DAY – Impressions Venue, 737 S. 3rd #200, Louisville, Ky., Monday, Jan. 16, 6-10 p.m.
- Lunch and Exhibit Tour – Roots 101 African American Museum, 124 N. 1st, Louisville, Ky., Friday, Jan. 20, noon. $20 for Members / $23 for Non-Members. “Join the women of WOC&WWAR for lunch, and a tour of the ‘We Fought for Our Freedom’ Exhibit at Roots 101 African American Museum.” For More Information: https://geddimembers.wildapricot.org/event-5101563.
- Here are some other suggestions from the Courier-Journal: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/entertainment/events/things-to-do/2023/01/11/martin-luther-king-jr-day-2023-louisville-events-celebration/69778472007/
- The King Center in Atlanta – Virtual Events Available. For More Information: https://thekingcenter.org/events/
- 2023 I Have a Dream Run/Walk – 1M, 5K, 10K, 13.1 miles, or 26.2 miles. Any Time in January. You can complete the run/walk anytime in January. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative. For More Information: https://allevents.in/louisville/2023-i-have-a-dream-1m-5k-10k-131-262-save-$2/10000488450547737
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