Making Meaning on MLK Day

Making Meaning on MLK Day

Emily Mercurio

Sometimes, the government gives us little freebies, like national parks, public art, and federal holidays off work. Today many of us will get to enjoy the luxury of a long weekend on behalf of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the holiday which bears his name. Tempting as it may be to spend this free time relaxing or taking care of projects around the house, we as Americans are given this time so that we can honor Dr. King’s legacy in a meaningful way. His life was spent fighting to bring justice to an unjust world, preaching unconditional love, and shepherding the United States towards a future of racial equality, and this day celebrates not only this one man, but the broader ideals and dreams he represents. Here are some ways to spend the day.

Get educated. Make sure you know what’s going on in your world, particularly concerning racial injustice. Don’t fall into the trap of complacency, and always stay true to the causes you’re passionate about. Read the news. Do a little digging. And if you find something that makes you angry…

...let your elected officials know. Dr. King believed in speaking out against injustice in his community. We can follow in his footsteps by emailing our representatives in Congress and the Senate (find out who they arehere). There’s a reason every nonprofit tells you to do this-- it works.

Volunteer. Rhode Island is filled with amazing organizations working every day to make our state and our world a better place. Give the gift of your time and expertise to a cause that your believe in. Find somewhere to volunteer here.

Donate. Your dollars can make a difference if you put them behind the right organizations. Find reputable charities in your area here.

Be a better neighbor. Random acts of kindness, participation in community events, and being friendly and welcoming to your neighbors make our world a better one. We did not always have the right to coexist so happily, and the battle is still not won.

Events in Providence

State Holiday Commission Celebration, 4:00pm, Ebenezer Baptist Church, 475 Cranston St.

Rhode Island’s official commemoration of Dr. King will feature Representative Raymond

A. Hull and Reverend Carl H. Balark Jr., as well as musical presentations and remarks

by state and religious leaders. Refreshments will follow service. Free admission.

Children’s Museum Exhibit, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, Providence Children’s Museum, 100 South St.

“Providence Children’s Museum presents a powerful celebration of the life and work of

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, January 18. The event features a live

performance with songs and stories, a civil rights display, and anti-discrimination activities and is free with Museum admission of $9.00 per person.” More information here –

Arts for Children, 8:30am-2:30pm, MLK Elementary School, 35 Camp St.

Bring your kids (ages 3-12) for a day of art activities sponsored by RISD and the Mt.

Hope Learning Center. Activities include face painting, jewelry-making, and sketchbooks

with educational materials on the life of Dr. King worked into the event. Free admission.

As you go forward in making meaning this Martin Luther King day, remember that Dr. King himself did not stop with just one day of service. Real change comes from continued effort, passion, and strong communities. Any one of us could be that change, given the commitment. Stick with it. Start with your block, and then your neighborhood, your city, your state. In Dr. King’s words, “the time is always right to do what is right.” Start doing right today.