Why not make MLK Day 'A Day On,' rather than 'A Day Off'?

Why not make MLK Day 'A Day On,' rather than 'A Day Off'?

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In Louisville, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is an official day of service

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 the slain Dr. King, encourage people to make Monday a time to serve others, to learn about his legacy, and reflect on how to make the world a better place.

In Cincinnati, the Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition sees MLK Day events themselves as a day on. After all, it’s when the organization’s year of planning for Cincinnati's commemorative events comes to fruition, Martha Viehmann of the coalition told us.

The community is invited to join the MLK march, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “For those who cannot march uphill to Washington Park, Metro is providing free rides on ‘the Rosa Parks Bus,’ which follows the marchers, departing after the prayer service at the Freedom Center and arriving at Washington Park for the prayer service there," Viehmann said.

At noon, the program at Music Hall begins. It features the return of the MLK Chorale and a keynote address by Denisha Porter of All-In Cincinnati. The program will also be live-streamed on the coalition’s website: https://www.mlkcoalition.org.

Viehmann said the march and Music Hall program are inspiring events “that we hope will motivate people to continue to work to make Dr. King's vision a reality during the rest of the year.” 

More ideas…

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.

And from Saturday through Monday, Cincinnati Parks is inviting people to help beautify some of its parks. More information about that is below.

Some MLK Day events

Here are some of Greater Cincinnati’s MLK Day events, compiled by ERS’ Emily Lorentz:

  • MLK Day of Service: Volunteer Beautification Project – Cincinnati Parks: Alms Park, California Woods Nature Preserve, French Park, Hopkins Park, Piatt Park. Saturday, Jan. 14 through Monday, Jan. 16. More Information: https://cincinnatiparks.regfox.com/mlk-day
  • King Legacy Celebration – National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Monday, Jan. 16, 8-9:45 a.m., cost: $25-$50. More Information: https://freedomcenter.org/voice/event/klc23/
  • MLK Coalition March – National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Monday, Jan. 16, 10:30 a.m. Free. The march ends at Washington Park with a prayer to follow. More Information: https://www.mlkcoalition.org/
  • Reckoning with Chaos, Creating Community MLK Day Commemorative Program Music Hall (OTR) or Virtual. Monday, Jan. 16, 12 p.m., Free Entry. “Enjoy the student poets from WordPlay, dance performances, a proclamation from Mayor Pureval, music by the award-winning MLK Chorale, and a keynote address from All-In Cincinnati- Greater Cincinnati Foundation Executive Director Denisha Porter.” https://www.mlkcoalition.org/
  • ArtisanFest513 – Washington Park, Monday, Jan. 16, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. Celebrate a diversity-in-small-business renaissance by supporting local businesses in the Cincinnati area. Featuring food vendors, crafters, and entertainment

ArtisanFest513 Tickets, Mon, Jan 16, 2023 at 12:30 PM | Eventbrite

Virtual events

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Kristin Davenport
January 12, 2023
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS in 2014 after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director with American City Business Journals. Her role at ERS has ignited her passion for making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city, and she spends time with residents as a SAIDO® Learning lead supporter. Kristin is the executive producer and co-host of the Linkage Podcast for ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex live in Lebanon, Ohio, with their two daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon, where she teaches painting and has an art studio, Indium Art.

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