This Monday, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And while it’s always great to get a long weekend, please, please don’t think of Monday as just another day off.
MLK Day should, quite honestly, make us feel a little bit uncomfortable. (And yes, I’m talking to my fellow white people here.) It should inspire us, yes. But it should also break our hearts, make us feel sick, and push us into action. It should encourage us to take a long, hard look at ourselves and our biases, and be brave enough to change. So with that in mind, here are just a few meaningful ways you can honor Dr. King alone and with your children, this week and beyond:
- Essential Reading:
- I’m Still Here – Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This book has quite literally changed the way I see the world. I had the great pleasure to meet Austin Channing Brown a few months ago, and I told her that I’m giving this book to every white person in my life.“I read Austin Channing Brown’s incredible book in one sitting. This is one that every black woman needs to read to be validated and every white person needs to read to receive some perspective. Brown has concisely articulated the burdens, questions, and frustrations that I find myself experiencing daily as a black woman.”—Sojourners
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. One of the best books I’ve read in the past year. I couldn’t put it down. “As we continue to fight the battle against police brutality and systemic racism in America, THE HATE U GIVE serves as a much needed literary ramrod. ” (Jason Reynolds, bestselling coauthor of ALL AMERICAN BOYS)
- Visit the Columbia Museum of Art. On Monday, Jan. 21 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., the FAAAC presents In Celebration of Dreamers. “In this unique MLK Day celebration, the Friends of African American Art & Culture (FAAAC) hosts a day of renewal to celebrate those who are keeping Dr. King’s dream alive — the doers, the change makers, the everyday people working to make our world a better place. Recharge by immersing yourself in art, culture, and community. This lively day of self-care features craft projects, wellness stations, artist-led workshops, music, performances, gallery tours, and more. Galleries open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Food available for purchase. Free admission presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.”
- Visit Richland Library and check out a rich, marvelous sack of Diverse Books for Families! “We are thrilled to launch our Diverse Books for Families book sets in the Children’s Room at Main. Our desire is to help children, families and caregivers discover a diverse range of people and cultures through books. Each bag contains a variety of books for ages 0-12, and the books included touch on diverse characters and their life experiences. No two bags contain the same title. Making these sets even more special—inside each bag is overview information about the book sets and how to use them as well as 10-15 questions to help you start meaningful conversations about the books with your family.” We checked out a bag last week and we are loving it!
- Listen to Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech in its entirety. It will be the best 17 minutes you’ve spent all day.
- Talk to your children about Martin Luther King Jr., about how his philosophy of justice, unity, and equality changed the fabric of our nation.
- Take a stroll down Columbia’s Main Street with the self-guided Civil Rights Walking Tour, and learn first-hand about how the Civil Rights Movement shaped the history of our city.
- Watch Selma. It’s beautifully done, and hopefully, will leave you completely undone.
- Consider taking an implicit racial bias test to take stock of any unchecked bias or privilege you might be harboring without even realizing it. The results are fascinating and eye-opening.
- If you are not a person of color, spend a little time leaning into and reading up on the Black Lives Matter movement and see why it’s so important.
- And while you’re at it, check out Be The Bridge for brass-tacks strategies for being a racial bridge-builder in your everyday life, and Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack of white privilege.
- And perhaps most importantly of all, pour some light and love into the world this Monday. Buy the coffee of the person behind you in line. Hold the door for a stranger. Drop cookies off on a neighbor’s doorstep. Write a letter to a friend letting them know how much they mean to you. Leave nothing good unspoken. Let’s each do our best every single day to drive out darkness with light.