Written by: Chynna Slaughter
America has always held the title “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” with honor and pride. And rightfully so. It’s been a beacon of hope for many before us and will continue to be for many to come. Though the state and history of this country has never been an easy or perfect one for most, it is undeniable that America has created some of the most influential people because of it. From literature, to art, to innovation, and activism — America continues to both simultaneously set the bar and break the ceiling for the meaning of “Home of the Brave” To honor these individuals, America will do things, such as monuments, statues, or in this case, holidays.
January 20, 1983 was the day when Martin Luther King day was officially signed into legislation. In 2000, it was recognized as a national holiday, and the rest is history. Now, almost 40 years later, we still celebrate in the honor of one of the most famous activists of all time. Dr. King became a national hero when he, along with many other African Americans, peacefully protested against the segregation and mistreatment of black people in America. Despite being met with aggression, racism, violence, and so much more, African Americans continued to be peaceful and show kindness. Dr. King’s role in this was his optimism and motivation. He kept spirits high when, rightfully so, many fighting the fight felt low. He continued to push for the act of peace, and his tactic worked. Without his gentle heart and fighting spirit, the fight for black rights would have looked a lot different.
At home in New York, there are a plethora of events to take part in to really get into the spirit. We aspire to help our community every day at Cee Cee’s, but on Martin Luther King day, we especially like to get into the spirit. New York isn’t the only place that makes this national holiday special! In every state, there are many activities, charities, events, and more to partake in! What would we recommend? To make MLK day, a day “on” and not a day “off”.
So, where to start?
- Community Events — The first thing we would recommend is checking out what your local or community organizations are doing. Often times than not, there will be a group feeding the homeless, helping our veterans, or giving a green thumb to the environment! Cee Cee’s Closet is based in Brooklyn, so we have lots of things going on, such as plays, ceremonials, parades, and informational events. This one is just going to vary from state to state, but don’t be shy to reach out to your local community leaders and ask what’s going on! If you live in an area that has nothing going on, create something! Be the change you wish to see. Today would definitely be the perfect time to do so!
- Educational Sharing — If you have a younger sibling, cousin, or child, Martin Luther King day is a great time to teach the younger generation of this national hero! There are a lot of movies about Dr. King and the fight for desegregation. A more kid friendly one is Our Friend, Martin, a cartoon about a modern day young black man who finds himself back in the 1960’s! If you’re an older crowd, there are so many more movies to watch on this subject. Selma, Ruby Bridges, The Rosa Park Story, KING, The Help, and so much more!
You can also use this time to go on a trip to a museum, or, if you don’t live in Alabama and you’ve always wanted to go, you can take a trip to visit Dr. King’s house!
- Get Creative! — Everyone has got a little artist in them. Have fun and make a tribute to Dr. King. If you like to write you can start by writing a song, a poem, or a letter. If you’re more of a hands on artist, you can also draw or paint a picture! Photo lovers can make a collage of photos of things that remind you of him/things that you are grateful for from his and many others hard work. Dancers can create an interpretive dance! Lastly, actors can create a short film doing a sketch they made or perhaps even recreating the famous speech! When it comes to this, the possibilities are endless.
- Future Planning — We all know Dr. King had a dream and he worked tirelessly until it became his reality, despite many opposing forces and the whispers of doubt into his ear. Take today to make a list of things you want to change in society. Why do you want to change it? How does it affect you? What can you do to facilitate this change? You can also make a list of things you want to change in general! Take Dr. King’s determination and hone it into yourself to make your own dreams come true!
January 20th is a special day for many reasons. However, you can make it even more special by taking action and being productive. The best part about this article? It’s timeless! Perhaps you’ll want to make a tradition out of MLK day. The choice is yours! Follow your dreams, it’s what he would have wanted.