Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday (Stevie Wonder)

Make MLK Day a Day ON, not a Day OFF

In 1994 Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service. Instead of a day off from work or school, Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King's legacy by turning community concerns into citizen action. The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships, and is an opportunity to recruit new volunteers for your ongoing work.

Participation in the King Day of Service has grown steadily over the past decade, with hundreds of thousands of Americans each year engaging in projects such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, building homes, and reflecting on Dr. King's life and teachings. Many of the projects started on King Day continue to engage volunteers beyond the holiday and impact the community year-round.

Although the scope of the event grows every year, many people still are not aware of the service component of the holiday. By encouraging the participation of as many organizations as possible, we hope to make next year's King Day of Service the biggest and best ever, engaging more people in service that honors Dr. King's life and teachings.

Since MLK Day observed was the day after the South Florida Folk Festival, I was remiss in giving it the attention it deserved - in doing a bit of research this afternoon, I ran across the article and website above, which spoke of the ongoing effort to turn it into a day of service.

We owe much to Dr. King, not the least of which is his belief in, and work toward, equal rights - I am proud to say my father worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and in 1961 covered the story of the desegregation of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, one of the first high schools in Georgia to open its doors to black students. I remember watching home movies he took of the incident, as the young man and woman entered the school, through lines of police waiting for potential riots and/or violence, and none occurred - just one more reason/incentive to get my mom's Super8's transferred to DVD, so we can relive history in the making...

BOOK: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr., Clayborne Carson

POEM: Psalms 15 (in memory of Martin Luther King) translated by Stephen Mitchell

Lord, who can be trusted with power,
and who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have let go of selfish interests
and grown beyond their own lives;
who see the wretched as their family
and the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
and worthy of the people's trust.
Their compassion lights up the whole earth,
and their kindness endures forever.

QUOTE: "Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. 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 the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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