Celebrate King’s legacy through service
“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.’”
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those words at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, as America was tossed in a tempest of racial unrest.
On Monday, we’ll mark King’s life and legacy with a national holiday. It’s now been 31 years since the birthday of this iconic figure in the civil rights movement was designated as such by Congress.
Sometimes in the years since his death, people ask a question that’s intriguing, but impossible to answer. “If Martin Luther King were alive today, what would he think of …?”
Certainly, if King had not been cut down by an assassin’s bullet in Mem- phis almost 49 years ago, and if he had lived to see his 88th birthday, he would have borne witness to all that the rest of America has seen. Most recently, he would have seen an America where an African-American man is coming to the finish line of the second term of his presidency. He would have seen an America that is ostensibly desegregated, but in fact has many gaps that persist between its black citizens and its white citizens.
He would have seen these things and more. What exactly he would have thought of all of them, and by word and deed influenced our perception of them, is pure speculation.
What can we do to appropriately mark the holiday? Here in Charles County, we have a couple choices.
One is the 22nd annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Break- fast on Monday, Jan. 16, at North Point High School. The breakfast, sponsored by the Charles County chapter of the NAACP and other partner organizations, will begin at 8:30 a.m., and costs $30. The program will begin at 9 a.m., featuring a keynote address by Lisa M. Weah with the New Bethlehem Baptist Church of Baltimore. For more information, contact Jehnell Linkins with the Southern Maryland Chain Chapter of the Links Inc. at email@example.com, or 443-694-9595.
Also in the morning, the Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park will join volunteers to help restore the historic tobacco barn and Laurel Branch farmhouse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will help replace clapboarding and paint “witches brew” weatherproofing solution on the original 18th century buildings. Work will be outside, and may be messy, so please plan accordingly. The foundation is specifically searching for a group of up to 20. Ideally, volunteers will be at least 18 years of age. For more information, contact Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 301-965-9574.
In a sermon in Atlanta only a few weeks before his assassination, King spoke about service to others.
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,” he told the congregation. “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
We can make his message endure on Monday, and all year long.