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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” In 1963, these powerful words rang out among a crowd of 250,000 people, and have continued to ring throughout the United States for the past 54 years.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister, activist and influential leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1968. His vision and campaign for equal rights in the United States was revolutionary, until his death by assassination in 1968. To honor him and his valiant efforts for change in the U.S., National Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1986.

Today, we remember King and the freedom he stood for. How can we as individuals commemorate Dr. King’s life, and further continue his legacy? Here are some ideas to get started and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Learn about Martin Luther King.
The first step in remembering MLK and what he stood for is learning more about him. While most kids will have lessons on King in the classroom this month, there are still ways you can take time with your family to learn about and celebrate King’s life.

Take time to discuss what King stood for, do arts and crafts focused on MLK or even watch a short video or movie that tells Dr. King’s story (here’s looking at you, 1999 drama Our Friend, Martin). In addition, reading books together to learn about MLK is an excellent way to spend time with one another as a family, while honoring and respecting King’s life.

Understand the Civil Rights Movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only commemorated for MLK himself, but also as recognition for the entire Civil Rights Movement. Commemorate today by learning about the Civil Rights Movement: how it originated, what its goals were and how it influenced the U.S. as a nation.

While the United States has definitely overcome some dark times in our country’s history, it’s important to learn from these in order to move forward. Talking about the Civil Rights Movement as a family gives your children the opportunity to ask questions, learn and grow, all from the safe environment of home.

Find local celebration events.
If your family is really interested in going further with their Martin Luther King Jr. Day plans, try checking in your local community to find any events remembering Dr. King. Some larger towns like Philadelphia have entire city-wide events, such as the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The observance has over 135,000 volunteers and 1,000 service events for people near and far to enjoy throughout the weekend.

If your community is smaller with less observances, take your family out for an evening at a local restaurant, art gallery or cafe to publicly recognize MLK Day. Many places may have specials, deals or even small gatherings to commemorate Dr. King.

Practice tolerance towards others.
Finally, one of the greatest ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to practice what he preached: that one day, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Today, this month and throughout the year, take time to get to know someone different from you, and learn about practicing tolerance with others. After all, Martin Luther King’s dream was for all men to truly be equal, and together we can work towards this goal.

Today, celebrate how far our nation has come by commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision. Because when we truly look to and understand the past, we can see an even clearer version of the future.