Tuesday Tip: Make MLK Day a “day on,” not a day off

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 21. Encouragingly, the day is growing in recognition, with about 42 percent of U.S. businesses now giving workers the day off, which is more than give Presidents Day. Also encouraging is the fact that more and more of those who do get the day off spend it as a “day on,” volunteering in their community and serving others.

This is a trend that is very much needed in our nation now, because the progressive ideals that Dr. King fought for – racial justice, civil rights, economic equality, nonviolence – need defending. Hate crimes are rising sharply. Income inequality continues to grow. Immigrant children are being separated from their parents and locked in cages. Donald Trump continues to sow fear and racial division to inflame his base and feed his ego.

Our country can be better than this. And you can help. You can volunteer on January 21 and show your support for Dr. King’s legacy. He lived – and died – building a movement for change and improving the lives of others. As he told an audience in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

What you can do is serve, even if only for a day. Spend MLK Day painting a school or delivering meals or building a home. Find a volunteer opportunity and help your neighbors, strengthen your community, bridge barriers and empower solutions to social problems.

To find a volunteer opportunity near you or get support for your project, try the search tool at the MLK Day of Service website.

As Coretta Scott King wrote in her essay “The Meaning of the King Holiday,” “His voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible.”

Every January 21, we can all follow in his footsteps. We can spend a day in service, live the values that Dr. King lived, and lift our nation a little closer to the ideals that he worked for.