The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is usually observed on the third Monday in January. Known as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. What does this mean in the context of a pandemic where many people cannot volunteer in person as they typically might? Fortunately, there are still many ways to engage in the spirit of what MLK Day represents, whether setting aside time to focus on learning more about King’s work, or donate some of your time or resources toward causes that champion social justice and racial equity.
This year, while MLK Day may be virtual, it’s more important than ever to continue to acknowledge and continue building the work of King and many other civil rights leaders, including the efforts of Black Lives Matter activists today. If you have the day off from work, school, or other responsibilities, consider some of these ways to participate in this day of service:
Attend a virtual event honoring King’s legacy, such as the Annual MLK Memorial Breakfast in Boston, the oldest celebration of MLK Day in the country. This year’s theme is “The Arc Toward Justice: Unfinished Business.”
Explore online art exhibits commemorating the civil rights movement. For example, some museums like MFA Boston are paying tribute to MLK Day through virtual celebrations.
Cambridge will host its 11th annual MLK Day of Service this year virtually; check out their website to stay informed.
Look into local groups and nonprofits, as lots of communities have developed ways to offer socially distanced volunteer opportunities like picking up donations, food pantry distribution, virtual tutoring and mentoring, and much more.
Jen Brown, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been in clinical practice since 2014. She received her MSW and Certificate in Urban Leadership in clinical social work from Simmons University School of Social Work. She has worked in outpatient mental health and integrative settings in community health centers, college mental health, and in affordable housing. Jen has experience working with depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, substance use and addiction, ADHD, identity shifts/adjustment issues, chronic illness, body image concerns, and relationship issues.