This year, celebrating the true meaning Martin Luther King Jr. day is more important than ever. You might know a few basic facts about King — who hasn't heard audio of his "I Have a Dream Speech" — and the holiday that we've been observing since 1983 in his honor — like the fact that it's always held on the third Monday in January, but as any good history class (or nonfiction book) tells us, there's more to a single hero or day than you might think.
According to Coretta Scott King, King's widow:
We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles.
You can thank Coretta Scott King for a lot — certainly for keeping her husband's legacy alive. In a completely inspiring, brave, and undaunted move, she founded The King Center in 1969, one year after her husband's murder, in the basement of the family home in Vine City, Georgia.
What you only maybe have taken part in are the national "teach-ins" associated with the holiday, but there's no need to not remedy that on your own. In fact, today is a perfect time to educate yourself, by listening to King's words, by attending a gathering or celebration in his honor, or by reading poetry. Coretta Scott King described the holiday as an opportunity to "[make] your personal commitment to serve humanity. These 7 poems, perfect for honoring the mission of Martin Luther King Jr., will help you do just that.
"won't you celebrate with me" by Lucille Clifton
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay
"RIOT" by Gwnedolyn Brooks
There is a moment in Camaraderie
when interruption is not to be understood.
I cannot bear an interruption.
This is the shining joy; the time of not-to-end.
"Microwave Popcorn" by Harmony Holiday
A bird gets along beautifully in the air, but once she is on the
ground that special equipment hampers her a great deal.
"In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr." by June Jordan
honey people murder mercy U.S.A.
the milkland turn to monsters teach
to kill to violate pull down destroy
the weakly freedom growing fruit
from being born
"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
"Shafro" by Terrence Hayes
Bits of my courage flake away like dandruff.
I’m sweating even as I tell you this,
I’m not cool,
I keep the real me tucked beneath a wig,
I’m a small American frog.
I grow beautiful as the theatre dims.
"One Today" by Richard Blanco
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming