Image Credit: By Tharun

On Monday, January 18, 2021, our nation celebrates a national holiday in honor of the leadership and compassion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who tirelessly led the United States in her struggle for civil rights and community values. His vision of a nation free of discrimination and oppression inspired numerous nonviolent movements across the country. Dr. King’s courageous stance against systemic racism prompted him to become one of the most well known leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. Many pay tribute to his peaceful legacy through annual acts of service. 

Signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Day was first recognized as a federal holiday in 1986. In 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Day as a national day of service, noting it was a “day on, not a day off.” In 2009, former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama launched United We Serve reaffirming the service call to “create a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to meet community needs.” Reminding citizens that “injustice remains in many corners of our country” and that “it is our mission to fulfill King’s vision of a Nation devoted to rejecting bigotry in all its forms.”  This National Day of Service has inspired numerous projects nationwide, as citizens volunteer at soup kitchens, Veterans Affairs offices, and local schools. During this pandemic challenged time, find a safe way to serve, outdoors, or on a virtual platform with one of these ideas and organizations to further Dr. King’s legacy:

  1. Support a Local Food Bank: Feeding America has numerous initiatives devoted to the goal of preventing people from going to bed hungry. Find a volunteer opportunity nearby.
  2. Plant Trees in Your Neighborhood: With tree cover declining in urban areas, planting trees promotes environmental wellness. Find a site to plant your tree. Follow forestry guidelines.
  3. Be a STEM mentor: Mentorship provides future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers with inspiration, which is especially crucial for low-income students. Learn more here
  4. Teach Financial Literacy: Many of us don’t learn budgets, credit, or savings in high school; much less effective financial tools. Teaching money management helps community members avoid pitfalls and poverty. Read guidelines from the Corp for National and Community Service.

Citizens can also find local volunteer opportunities here. However you decide to honor this holiday and spread Dr. King’s message of compassion, my team and I wish you a happy Martin Luther King Day, and hope that everyone finds a meaningful way to celebrate.  

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, modern manners and etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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