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1/13/16- How will you celebrate MLK Day?

After the holiday season at the close of the year, the first holiday that greets us after the New Year is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Theoretically, we know who he was and why he was important, but what can we do to honor what he stood for other than enjoying the day off? What should we do as a society on this day? First and foremost, we should commemorate this day to honor King’s work and memory. It is important to remember that it is because of people like him and other civil rights leaders that African-Americans have been afforded the multitude of opportunities that they have today. He not only stood for African-American rights but for the rights of all people, including the disadvantaged and impoverished. He believed in the power of a divisive society creating a unified society, of bloody riots being transformed into peaceful gatherings. He believed in the power of non-violent demonstrations and the power of and in words, and we can see his still reverberate in our memories to this day. It is important to remember that the fight for solidarity and against discrimination is not over; we have come a long way, which is marked by iconic points and leaders in our history, but surely there is more work to be done.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is why Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be a day on rather than a day off. One of King’s most prized and precious beliefs was a socialized ideal of working together to create a “beloved community”. A community in which all people would work together, despite the historical divides that have been socially constructed through race. A community that would work to diminish those divisive powers and work in unity towards making the world a better place. Choose to honor King’s legacy on this day by being active in your community and volunteering with a non-profit organization, church, or community function. Alternatively, spend some time learning with friends and family about what he fought for and how he epitomized his values for the sake of justice.  

Often times, our lives render us busy and unaware of the needs that lie within our own communities. Use this day not only as one to reflect on King’s legacy but to act on it as well.

Below are some resources to help you along the way:

MLK Museum Day
January 18, 2016

Get free admission on Martin Luther King Day if you can show a valid ID that has an Illinois address:

MLK Day celebration
January 18, 2016 (7 p.m.)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day Celebration is at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center.

MLK Day observance
January 18, 2016 (7 p.m.)
Hear a speaker and a student music performance, with a candlelight vigil and an after-reception at the Campus Observance of Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University. Free to the public.

MLK Day at the zoo
January 18, 2016
Brookfield Zoo is free today, and there is an MLK Celebration at noon in the Discovery Center.

Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Family Day
January 18, 2016 (9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Celebrate science on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, at the Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Black Creativity Family Day. Free for IL residents.

MLK Day breakfast
January 19, 2016 (10 a.m. to noon)
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast includes a buffet and a keynote speaker at DePaul University. Free.

How will you be spending your MLK day? How are you or your organization celebrating? Share your ideas in the comments below.