Part of the purpose of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is to incite people to think about his legacy. If Twitter is any indication, then the holiday is really having its intended effect.
Tweets about MLK Day 2018 range from the expected yet still poignant and meaningful MLK quotes to pointed barbs thrown Donald Trump's direction. It makes sense that they'd run the gamut this year, though, since MLK's fight is so very relevant in the current political climate.
When we think about King, it's worth pointing out the points in society where he'd recognize progress — and also the places where he'd be disappointed that we haven't gone any farther. One major example of a success, of course, is that the country had a black president for two terms. But then on the other hand, a setback is that Barack Obama's successor makes racist comments
and then tries to celebrate MLK's life and work soon after.
In other words, there's still work to do, and the proliferation of MLK quotes and messages on Twitter is just one small piece of evidence for that. There are so many directions to go, and so many of his words to explore and think more deeply about. Here is just a small sampling for you to get started with.
A Reminder Of The American Dream
America was founded on the radical notion of equality for everyone — and MLK dedicated his life to making the country fulfill that promise.
Remember How He Fit In — Or Didn't
MLK wasn't a hero because he went with the tide — he was a a hero because he went against it. It's necessary — and difficult — to remember that the people truly carrying on his legacy today are the controversial ones fighting for unachieved goals.
King recognized that not everyone could fight the same fight. Instead, the important thing was to do what you could. This message is relevant today, anywhere that there is still injustice and oppression to be thrown off.
A Message From The Family
Things are pretty tense in the U.S. right now — but
1968, the year of MLK's assassination, was still worse. If you're feeling some stress about the direction of the country, remember that progress comes in waves, and that it's recovered from serious divides in the past.
An Idea MLK Might Have Liked
MLK was full of new and radical ideas, including his form of
nonviolent resistance to oppression. Why not use the holiday honoring him to think of more? Making Election Day a holiday would allow everyone to exercise their democratic responsibility and right, which would be an excellent step towards making the country more equal.
Repeat His Most Famous Words
You know the title of the speech — but do you remember the context? It's always worth watching and listening to again.
Applying His Words To Today
Trump hasn't shied away from violent tweets, including
anti-Muslim retweets and threats of nuclear war. In this painting, an artist points out fittingly that this sort of behavior goes against everything that MLK represents.
Optimism For The Future
Racism and war are still very much present in the world — but so are the people working to end them.
Give Yourself Some Credit
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the best aspects of yourself — but it doesn't always take hue shows of heroism to follow in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s footsteps.
MLK's words about love have been repeated enough times to almost become cliched, but sometimes they still deserve another reflection.
Applying His Thoughts To The Present, Again
This quote is particularly relevant today, as the administration referenced in the cartoon above has made unprecedented efforts to
remain ignorant about science and scholarship on numerous subjects. We can also safely assume that MLK wouldn't have been crazy about a new border wall.
Just Remember: Be Selfless
This final MLK quote really boils things down for those who want to take his message into their own lives — how are you helping people? And, again — no grand gestures are required.
Today is the day when we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., remember his achievements, and remind ourselves of what he fought for. However, that doesn't mean that we can't bring his legacy into our everyday lives, and continue fighting oppression wherever it exists.