Before the passage of a holiday that celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, many African Americans did not know too much about the Civil Rights Movement besides the fact that two people [Dr. King’s I Have A Dream Speech and Rosa Parks’ refusal to sit at the back of the bus] worked extremely hard, giving up their lives for so-called equality in the United States of America for Africans born in America. And now after the passage of a holiday that’s supposed to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, many African Americans still do not know too much about the Civil Rights Movement along with the fact that more than two people [Dr. King and Rosa Parks] worked extremely hard, giving up their lives for so-called equality in the United States of America. If you ask the average African American person to name five or more individuals or groups even that participated in the Civil Rights Movement, many of them can do no more than Dr. King and Rosa Parks. This is why I propose that Dr. Martin Luther King’s day (MLK Day) of celebration should be replete with opportunities to learn about his life contributions and the contributions and impact of the actions of the groups and individuals who composed the Civil Rights Movement, versus the massive participation in the highly commercialized, volunteering events that this day has turned into.

In this, ha-ha, post-Black, post-racial society in which we now live, MLK Day is overshadowed by massive volunteer projects. Clearly there’s nobility and generosity in volunteering in any way shape or form, however, since America is now a, ha-ha, post-Black, post-racial society, this, one plus year later, should be the year in which we will see and be able to participate in volunteer project on the days of celebrations of the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Columbus and all of the forefathers of this country because after all we’re all equal now, right?. No more days off on Presidents Day or Columbus Day because we now live in a society that is equal and our volunteer efforts are also of equality, no matter whom the individual(s) we are celebrating, right? Hence, for balance or equality, from now on American society should also have ‘Days On’ for President’s Day, Columbus Day and all ‘Days’ in which American society celebrates its Heroes. I look forward to witnessing the massive volunteer projects that will come into effect this year in this post-Black, post-racial society in which we now live. I wonder what the volunteer focus will be on this upcoming ‘President’s Day?’ I wonder what volunteer efforts will develop on ‘Memorial Day’ to commemorate the efforts of this country’s war heroes? And what shall volunteerism based on the contributions of people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day produce? There are many more days to volunteer already set in the holiday calendar of America; Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriot Day, All Saint’s Day and Pearl Harbor Day. So with all of these days for volunteerism, American society should be fully covered, leaving no one in need of anything. However, all of the aforementioned is not happening, there’s only one day ‘ON’ and that day is MLK Day!

Clearly, this day “ON’ or ‘Day of Service’ is a reminder to Africans born in America that this country has allowed for the celebration of an African American but not in the same way that many heroes of this country are celebrated. In addition to the usual commercial hype about MLK Day, the retail and automobile sales and actual events of celebration, MLK Day has an added component that dominates the actual celebrating of his life contributions and the powerful actions of the collective of African Americans who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, and that is to volunteer. Many of us do not see where this has come from and where it is going. Let’s start with where this has come from. MLK Day became a massive volunteer project at the hands of people who continually insist on controlling African Americans for their own benefit, they tell us what, where, when, how and why we should do what we do, specifically as it concerns our own sheroes and heroes. Telling African people what to do, who to celebrate and how to celebrate is the usual fare for these ‘think tanks’ pick one, two or all of them – Brookings Institution, Rothschild Foundations, Tavistock Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Prison Industrial Complex (See Committee of 300). How many of these volunteer projects benefit a noted amount of Black communities, schools, churches, etc – by noted I mean large number? What happens the next day and the day after and the day after?

The question, ‘Where is it going to volunteer on MLK Day?’ It’s going somewhere minimal especially if MLK Day is the only day in which you volunteer and do not regularly volunteer somewhere or do not share some of your own personal wealth including additional (time, knowledge, conversation, friendship, kindness, etc) aspects of your life. If you insist on volunteering on MLK Day, at least consign yourself to also volunteer on additional days throughout the year, maybe on George Washington/ Abraham Lincoln Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Columbus Day or on the additional days off listed earlier. After all, volunteering on your day off, making it a day on is a necessity on any day of the year isn’t it?

Here are some suggestive opportunities to celebrate and learn about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the Civil Right Movement.

  • Watch videos and video clips about MLK and his speeches, Rosa Parks and the Civil Rrights Movement (CRM), I recommend – Deacons of Defense, Emmet Till and the many videos about MLK, Rosa Parks and the CRM
  • Access speeches about MLK, in addition to the popular ‘I Have A Dream’ speech (I recommend the one he made in Ghana as many of us are unaware that MLK went to Africa)
  • Compare MLK’s speeches with those of Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B.Wells, Sojourner Truth and Malcolm X
  • Read books about MLK, Rosa Parks and the (CRM)
  • Assign your children mini research projects about MLK, Rosa Parks and the CRM and engage them in the information they find to enforce their knowledge thereof
  • Go to museums, and attend events that allow you and your family to learn about MLK, Rosa Parks and the CRM
  • Visit websites of CRM museums throughout the country, especially support the efforts to have one in Alabama
  • Attend plays, and interactive performances that address MLK’s and Rosa Parks lives and the CRM
  • Read MLK’s ’Letters from a Birmingham Jail’ and study the activism of Rosa Parks
  • Expose yourself to the family tree of MLK and then create or update your family’s tree.
  • Balance your day of service with a day of learning and celebrating about the CRM and learn about the mant people who contributed to this effort.

Iya Adjua, PhD

Iya Adjua is an independent scholar, activist, edupreneur. She is the owner/operator of Wehemy Mesu Productions/Cultural Rebirth Connections. WMP/CRC is an education consulting, support and resource business.