“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1955, he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He unified a nation in 1963 with his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington, and in 1965 he led a march through Selma to help gain African-Americans the right to vote in the South. He championed for the rights of African-Americans, and it’s because of his work that African-Americans are able to become astronauts, industry leaders, and even the president. On January 18, we honor a man who did so much for our country, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In retrospect, 2015 was an amazing year. We saw love win and the world come together to adopt the first universal climate agreement in Paris. In the African-American community, we witnessed great moments like the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma and Viola Davis’ impassioned speech, after becoming the first African-American woman in history to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. We saw a football team unite behind a young man at the University of Missouri, who went on a hunger strike to protest the school’s handling of racial tension. It’s moments like these that allow me to believe that Dr. King would be proud to see us and what the future has become. But, as bright as 2015 seemed, it wasn’t without its shadows. So, with all the goodness in my heart, I choose to believe that in 2016 we, as a nation, will revitalize the vision of Dr. King, and what better day than January 18 to breathe life back into his dream.
What many people might not know is that Martin Luther King Jr. Day has evolved from a federal holiday into so much more. In 1983, legislation was signed to create a holiday marking Dr. King’s birth, and Americans first observed this holiday three years later in 1986. Then, in 1994, Congress chose to honor Dr. King by passing the King Holiday and Service Act and marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service. Congress entrusted the Corporation for National and Community Service to lead this effort, and thus a Day of Service was born. On this day, the Corporation for National and Community Service asks us to join hands and serve our community in remembrance of Dr. King. So, on January 18, don’t just take a day off — take a day on and answer one of Dr. King’s most important questions, “ What are you doing for others?”
This year, I’ve decided to take his question to heart, and participate in the Day of Service. I will be volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, where I’ll sort through hundreds of pounds of food that is used to feed Central Texans who suffer from hunger. For those looking to lend a helping hand in your area, click here to find Day of Service events in your community. Volunteering isn’t the only way to experience Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In Austin and Houston, there are many events going on such as parades, speech competitions, and marches in his memory. No matter how you celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it’s important to remember the man who preached nonviolence, fought for the equality of others, and most importantly, helped move America forward.
If you’re looking to lend a helping hand in your community, or just want to experience the energy at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, check out some of these exciting events in Austin and Houston:
Day of Service in events Austin: Concordia University | Houston-Tillotson University | Austin Parks Foundation| Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activities in Austin: March and Festival | MLK Oratory Competition
Day of Service in events Houston: University of Houston | The Student Conservation Association | Houston Food Bank
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activities in Houston: Children’s Museum of Houston | Youth Parade | Battle of the Bands | MLK Grande Parade Houston