A few years ago, my daughter’s mother came up with a noble idea: our daughter should volunteer each Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Young Americans should be able and willing to volunteer their time in honor of their country and in honor of a man whose tireless pursuit of unifying the country spoke the most loudly through his actions.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the reverend, scholar and social activist who led the Civil Rights Movement and pushed for justice and equality for all, despite the racial inequalities and inequities that permeated strongly during that time. In his short lifetime, he pushed for key legislation, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, banning racial voter discrimination practices. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In his speech at the March on Washington in 1963, famously known as the “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. King spoke of a new, brighter country, and world, where he imagined people would be judged on the content of their character and the quality their deeds, and not by the color of their skin, something that no one could have chosen.
Unfortunately, on his quest for equality (his support ran the gamut of supporting racial non-discrimination policies and fair wages) Dr. King was assassinated.
Today, inline with the mission and memory of his life, MLK Day stands as a bastion of service. Americans will head to various community centers and food banks to volunteer their time and service.
Service does not have to be grand; it can be small, like removing litter from streets, or even paying a compliment to someone. In Central PA, information on where to volunteer can be found at centralpamlkday.org.
This MLK Day, my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop will create artwork and acrostic poems on friendship that will adorn the walls of Camp Hill’s Cleve J. Fredricksen Library. In past years, my young daughter volunteered her time at Caitlin’s Smiles, carefully filling bags with arts and crafts supplies (and love) that will be used by children with terminal illnesses.
Children can read a book about Martin Luther King. They can help around the house. Children should understand that they are capable of providing service to the nation, not only on MLK Day, but every day.
Jamar Thrasher, a Pennsylvania-based writer who often writes about youth issues, is the owner of Kennedy Blue Communications, a PR firm which focuses on youth organizations and youth initiatives. His work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PennLive and the New Pittsburgh Courier. He lives with his young daughter, Kennedy.