Martin Luther King’s birthday is one of the major holidays of the year. Why? There are several possible reasons ranging from the enjoying the year’s first three-day weekend to taking advantage of the great sales. But the most probable reason that the King holiday is one of “the majors” is because Dr. King was a giant in American history. In fact, Dr. King was also a giant in world history and a titan in the international arena.
People spend the King Holiday in different ways. Here are a few suggestions for “saving” the day rather than “spending” it.
Watch A King (or Civil Rights) Movie
Do you like to watch movies? There are plenty of movies about Martin Luther King. One of the best is called King (1978), which aired as a three-day television miniseries Dr. King was brilliantly portrayed Paul Winfield. Cicely Tyson played Coretta Scott King. This movie showed the highlights of King’s career. Great performances and a great story!
For those who like documentaries, the PBS produced a highly acclaimed series about the Civil Rights Movement called Eyes on the Prize. This famous series on DVD teaches about various aspects of the Civil Rights Movement: the activists, the marches, the speeches, the events, and the laws. This is one of the best films ever made about this turbulent time!
Read Books written by Dr. King
Many people prefer reading books to watching movies. Or they enjoy books in addition to movies. Martin Luther King wrote many excellent books. Focusing on his life story are The Autobiography of Martin Luther King and The Testament of Hope. They both read very well and transport the reader into the mind of this great man.
For a book about his philosophy and theories later in his career, read Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Excellent book about social and economic change that should be required reading.These books are great to read during the King weekend.
Don’t forget to read Let the Trumpet Sound, you will never forget it.
Watch a King Speech
Dr. King wrote many excellent books. However, he reached many people through his speeches on civil, social, and economic rights. Beginning his career as a Baptist preacher, he was a moving and captivating speaker. So, watching his famous “I Have a Dream” speech is a very appropriate and interesting way to spend and commemorate his holiday. Many of his speeches can be found on the Internet in full text or full-text form or video.
Attend a Rally
Many cities around the country are having rallies on various issues related to civil rights or social reform. This is also a historically appropriate way to commemorate King’s birthday and the civil rights movement, which was based on nonviolent activism.
Read What King Read
To learn about a person, it is important to read not only what he or she wrote, but also what he or she read. And Dr. King was a great reader! His favorite: Henry David Thoreau, particularly the brilliant and quotable book, Walden. Dr. King was also a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and he, undoubtedly, read Gandhi's autobiography. Thoreau provided King’s philosophical basis while Gandhi provided his mechanism of nonviolence for social change.
Be a Dreamer
Dream pages are pages where a person writes down his or her vision for the ideal future. The vision could be personal, for the country, or even for the world. Here is the opportunity to envision the perfect world. There are no limits—just imagination! This fun activity is done in many schools so that children can understand that the first step toward change is to “see” it in their own minds. Action is the next step. Making dream pages is a great way to honor the memory of Dr. King. And kids love it!
Happy MLK Day!
The Martin Luther King holiday is a great time to reflect on how U.S. society (and, indeed, the world) has changed in just a few decades. But more change is needed. It is also a time to honor today’s heroes that are continuing to work for justice and equality.
Honor Dr. King. Support today’s activists for peace. And remember to dream!