The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation has the right idea. Recognizing that African-American patients in particular need your help, organizers have created the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Initiative” to coordinate bone marrow recruitment drives at historically black churches or colleges.
“This is a great opportunity for congregations that are interested in interfaith activities and hands-on social action projects,” the organization notes on its website.
But if lack of motivation isn't the primary obstacle to celebrating MLK Jr. Day Monday, then perhaps all that's needed is a little direction. Bottom line: Opportunities are abundant, so there's no excuse for inaction.
Even if actual bone marrow donation is not for you, the National Marrow Donor program values your time and skills just as much. You can spread the word online as a social volunteer or sponsor a membership drive to identify potential donors. And keep this in mind: More than 1 in 3 black people in this country can't find a marrow match they need to treat life-threatening diseases such as sickle cell and lymphoma.
The life and times of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fill enough tomes to keep the most voracious readers satisfied until kingdom come, but consider smaller bites for Monday in the form of documentaries (check your TV listings) or even archived news conferences like these from the day after King's assassination: These two -- from a somber President Lyndon B. Johnson and an agitated black activist Stokely Carmichael -- provide a sobering contrast.
The History Channel website puts others within easy reach.
What good is accumulating all that knowledge without sharing it with others, particularly young people for whom King has been reduced to the "I Have a Dream" speech and a day home from school. So corner some young relatives or mentees this weekend, challenge their understanding of King's legacy and help them fill in the blanks. Or lead a group trip to the library if you need some scholarly support, or find a King-focused church service to highlight the influence of where he was spiritually moored.
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King's legacy includes his unwavering commitment to civil rights and non-violent social change. What better way to pick up on the theme than by applying such principles to your own community. Among the questions you might ask yourselves: Do all your neighbors have unfettered access to polling places? Are the elderly as nourished as they should be? Are your best schools equally accessible by all? Are the children physically fit and destined for healthy adult lifestyles? These are a few possible places to begin your mission.
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain," he said Aug. 28, 1963, "and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
What is your dream?
Share them in the comments section below, along with your suggestions for honoring King, who would have been 86 last Thursday.