“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’ Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Only four days before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke these words in an address at the Washington National Cathedral titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” As we honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, we are mindful that “the time is always ripe to do right,” and we offer several ways to honor his remarkable life.
Serve. The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is known as “a day on, not a day off.” In fact, it is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage Americans to volunteer in their communities. Many of us will enjoy time away from work, and we encourage all who are able to roll up their sleeves and help where there is a need. Even at the last minute, a simple Google search can direct you to local nonprofits who welcome volunteers. Opportunities are abundant!
Learn. Especially if you’re looking for inspiration, this is a great month to find out more about Dr. King’s life and the history of the civil rights movement in America. Public libraries are a great place to start. Some areas have museums with excellent collections on the struggle for civil rights. You can find videos of Dr. King’s speeches on YouTube, relevant movies on Netflix, and excellent documentaries, such as these on PBS.
Reflect and commit. There have been many changes in society and technology since Dr. King’s lifetime, but we are a country that continues to grapple with racism, poverty, income inequality and war. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, consider what steps you can take in the coming year to be part of positive change. Join an advocacy group, write letters to policymakers, commit to voting, and speak out for justice wherever you have influence.
Self-Help’s mission to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity is rooted in the civil rights movement and remains more relevant than ever. Thanks to all of our members, partners and supporters who, like us, are deeply invested in Dr. King’s dream.