Why and How We Can Celebrate MLK Day in DFW
Most people welcome Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a chance to enjoy a day off from school or work. But looking closer, why do we observe a national holiday for just one person? And how we can celebrate the day in meaningful ways, right here in DFW?
Why We Celebrate MLK DaySince 1983, MLK Day has honored the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most influential and inspiring civil rights leaders in our nation’s history. It’s celebrated on the third Monday of January, which falls close to MLK’s birthday on the calendar.
Dr. King was a minister and activist who worked tirelessly for civil rights during a turbulent era. Drawing on his faith, Dr. King organized peaceful protest rallies and delivered inspirational speeches around the country. He endured threats and even imprisonment. Even still, he continued to work for justice and equality through non-violent, direct means.
Dr. King’s speeches and writings reveal how deeply his faith informed his actions and his belief in the redemptive power of suffering. His iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the March on Washington in 1963, remains one of the most powerful speeches in American history. Its soaring vision still impacts people today, calling us all to move forward toward the promise of racial equality, healing, and unity.
We observe MLK Day to remember the life, contributions, and legacy of this great leader.
How We Can Celebrate MLK DayHere are three ways you can celebrate Dr. King's life and legacy right here in DFW:
1. Participate in Local EventsCollin County MLK will hold its annual MLK Power Leadership Breakfast on Saturday, January 14 at Collin College, Plano Campus. More information is available here.
The Plano Community Forum will hold its annual MLK Day Celebration, "Remembering a King", at Williams High School on Sunday, January 15.. Find details here.
Visit the African American History Museum's "Realizing the Dream Healthy Living Expo" for a day of celebration and community. Find more info here.
Attend one of the many community-wide events sponsored by the Dallas MLK Center during its annual MLK Celebration Week, including the
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Dallas MLK Center website.
2. Serve the CommunityBeginning in 1994, Congress designated MLK Day as the only federal holiday to be a national day of service, led by the Corporation for National and Community Service. It is a day intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, and create solutions to social problems, bringing us a step closer to Dr. King’s vision of an equal and free society.
So gather some friends and loved ones, and look around for MLK Day of Service opportunities like this list of volunteer ideas in Collin County and this searchable list at Points of Light, or plan your own project with some excellent resources from Youth Service America.
Even if you can't participate in an organized project, think of a way you can make a difference in your own neighborhood. It can be as simple as greeting a new neighbor to show them love and acceptance or collecting donations such as toiletry items and clothing for a local refugee center.
3. Learn with Your FamilyAnother great way to celebrate MLK Day is to teach your family about the value of diversity and different cultures. For example, read or listen to a speech or letter by Dr. King, such as his “I Have a Dream” speech or his "Letter From Birmingham Jail." After listening or reading, talk with your children about the experience and what it means for us today.
Engage and inform young children about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement with picture books. For an excellent list of children's books you can read and discuss together as a family, look here.
Different cultures find expression in many forms: food, music, and more. You can listen to music from another culture, or plan a family dinner where you and your family cook dishes from a different culture together. Vote on the dish your family likes the best, and learn more about the culture from which the dish comes!
Even if your family cannot serve in the community together, you can celebrate MLK Day by making a list of community issues such as homelessness, poverty, or broken families. Pick an issue and prayerfully create a plan for how your family can be a part of finding a solution. This will be a great way to help children become more aware of the world in which they live, as well as identify and solve problems where they are.
However you decide to celebrate MLK Day, there are great reasons why we honor Dr. King’s vision and message of love, hope, peace, and equality for all people. His call to learn about different cultures, heritages, and backgrounds—and to better our communities—still resonates today. As we remember the life and legacy of this great leader, we can make it a “day on, not a day off.”