Martin Luther King Day & Us
BY TYLER BENDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - COMMUNICATIONS & IT
Martin Luther King Day is such an important day each year. Have you thought about how you will personally be observing the federal holiday this year? MLK is one of the greatest orators in the history of America. He helped bring to light some of the most broken places in our world – and recognized everyone’s need for love, respect, justice, and hope. His message was one that addressed human rights, not just civil rights. If Martin Luther King's message for justice doesn't align with Grace’s passion to heal the six broken places, I don’t know what does. So with that, I propose that it be a priority for all of us to recognize and observe his legacy.
If Martin Luther King's message for justice doesn't align with Grace’s passion to heal the six broken places, I don’t know what does...
What are some ways we can do that this year? Glad you’re asking! There are events happening around our city to honor the day. If you can’t get out and about to celebrate with others, scroll down to the bottom of this post for a few ideas for how you can observe the day from the comforts of your own home and loved ones!
Things You Can Do
There are events happening all over the city that will pay homage and honor King. Coretta Scott King said this shouldn't be a day off, but a day on, where we all get out to volunteer or serve other people. If you’re looking to spend your time somewhere on January 16, here are just a few you can take your family to, or go alone!
Completely free of charge (if you bring in a non-perishable food item) and completely open to the public. The museum invites you to celebrate MLK’s life by engaging in various local activities, films and performances.
Free admission, performances, programs and service opportunities with other Hoosiers. This sounds wonderful!
Free admission for all children and families. Listen to stories about courageous children during the Civil Rights Movement, enjoy music from The Griot Drum Ensemble and the Freetown Village Singing Troupe.
Join hundreds of Hoosiers in volunteering together around Indianapolis by honoring MLK’s commitment to service and social justice. The event is full, but you can register to be on the waitlist!
Things You Can Do Before, On, or Beyond MLK Day
Maybe you can’t get out and about. It’s all good. There are really simple and meaningful ways that you can take pause on Monday to remember and honor King’s legacy.
Did you know that this speech was not “prepared”? King had known that he wanted to deliver a powerful oration, but some of his advisors had suggested he curb his “dream” language on that day. But he put his prepared remarks aside when gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson urged him and shouted “tell them about the dream, Martin!” And then he did. The speech is largely improvised.
While you’re at it, read his “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech.
After that, read his Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Commit to Learning
There’s a dominant narrative about King. Chances are many of us know portions of his story. I want to commit to learning more. We must read his words.. It’s important that, no matter where we are on our journey, we take pause to learn the history of the pursuit for racial justice, not just the dominant narratives. MLK Day is simply an opportunity for us to assess and evaluate what we are doing to support this pursuit. As a white guy, it’s essential for me to constantly understand how I can be a better ally to this movement toward justice. I have a responsibility to support (not overtake or “save”) movements for racial justice. I want to appreciate the steps people like King have taken to bring us closer, but I must also recognize change is still needed and there is much to do still.
Talk About it with Someone
Talking about racism isn’t supposed to be comfortable. But it’s important. If you can’t make it out to an event in Indy this weekend, commit to starting a conversation about our current culture’s racial climate. It’s important to critique our society and ourselves on this! Hopefully this conversation spurs and inspires others – beyond MLK Day.
Explore the pursuit of racial justice through one of Grace’s Partners
Grace Church is committed to bring healing to this broken place. We do not have all the answers, but we have the best (and only) answer: Jesus Christ. We’re proud to partner with dozens of local partners who are committed to healing this broken place as well. We also invite you to partner with the Grace Care Center to bring healing to the poverty, injustice and racial divide that plagues our own communities!
MLK Day is one day a year. It goes without saying that one day a year is not nearly enough to honor him and his vision and message for equality in our country (and world). We all must commit ourselves to bringing justice to our world through prayer, learning, listening, and the hard (and often uncomfortable) work that it takes to be part of this movement together.
Happy Martin Luther King Day.