Quotes of peace and tolerance abound on Facebook and Twitter every year on this Martin Luther King JR. Day. For most people, that is where celebrating the holiday stops. There are not traditional parties or family dinners on this day, so a lot of the people still want to be involved in honoring this important man are unsure how to proceed and simply post about him online.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing powerful words from an important civil rights leader, but there is also so much more that can be done.
Learn about Martin Luther King Jr.
Take some time to really study his story. We are lucky that he was alive so recently, because that means we have access to extensive information about him. Learn about his life, his path to activism, and his death. His life did not start and end with “I have a dream.”
Educate yourself about why he spoke out.
The majority of people understand just the basics of segregation and discrimination. Take some time to learn about real issues faced by minorities and minoritized groups. Even though a lot has improved since the 1960’s, racism is still a strong force in our society. Read reputable sources written by people in the group being discussed for the best information.
Have discussions with people you know.
MLK Day is a great time to bring up his life and legacy and have conversations about it. Now that you have educated yourself, you can take part in these dialogues in a deeper and more meaningful way. This is an easy opportunity to share what you have learned and hear thoughts and ideas from other people.
Reflect on yourself.
It is challenging to look at yourself from an unbiased perspective and evaluate where you can improve. However, we live in a toxic world. Every single person has picked up problematic attitudes and beliefs. This often happens on the subconscious level, so you might not be aware of what you are doing, especially if people around you hold the same unconscious biases and behaviors.
Everyone has the opportunity to change. Take some time today, and other days, to really evaluate how you think about and treat other people. Remember, confronting your own negative traits can be very upsetting, so be gentle with yourself. It is a huge step in the right direction to reflect on yourself and acknowledge your errors. Positive change takes time, but you are already one step closer. Being conscious of your errors and making an effort to correct them will slowly but surely elevate the way you treat other people and how you view the world around you.