Every year, we reflect on the great legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King in late January. Many of us have decided that if we receive a day off work that we will dedicate the day as a “day on” filled with service and reflection. I ask that all of us remember to keep this important holiday as a day to think and act beyond our own personal commitments.
It is now more evident than ever that the strides of King and countless others, although great, still leave much for us to work toward, both individually and collectively. Civil rights are still worth fighting for, and as the continuous stream of injustices in New York City and across the nation have shown us, we must keep the fire of King at the forefront of our minds.
As we move beyond the man and focus on the larger message of social justice, equality, human rights and uplift, I hope that we can find ways to become more active citizens, community members and participants to make King’s mission a more concrete reality.
There are so many young people who have taken the recent events of Ferguson, Mo., and police brutality to heart. They are the new spirit that is keeping King’s legacy alive. We must support those who are active and encourage those who do not think they have much to contribute.
There are so many avenues in which we can all get involved in micro and macro ways. We can volunteer at a church, school, nursing home or homeless shelter. We can become more politically involved by attending community board meetings, contacting our representatives with our concerns and even supporting or encouraging someone who is thinking about running for office (more on that in a later post).
We can even do very small things like picking up litter, recycling more and starting a rainy day fund to support grassroots organizations that are doing the hard work every day. This is the legacy of King. This is a legacy we can continue. We have the capacity to be the catalyst for change.
On this particular MLK holiday, I will challenge myself to do more, be more and assist my community in the process. Happy King Day, now let’s get to work.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream.”