Let’s Celebrate Dr. King With Hope Today

Last year, I took my son to see the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC for the first time. To be honest, I’m not crazy about it. I get what they were trying to convey about him, but I think I would have made a different choice. Still, I believe it is wonderful to have a memorial for an African American peace maker and social justice advocate in the limited public space of our national capitol.

It is always hard to know how to acknowledge such an iconic figure. But this morning, two women that I follow through their Substack newsletters posted beautiful things that brought me to tears. So I thought I would share those with everyone, rather than trying to think up something profound by myself.

The first one I read was by Heather Cox Richardson in her “Letters from an American” newsletter. She does a wonderful job viewing contemporary events through the lens of American history, and I recommend that everyone subscribes to her newsletter. The message of today’s post is that even though we seem to be involved in so much negative politics, that is not to say that we don’t have heroes. In most cases, people don’t wake up saying “Today I’m going to be a hero.” Rather, people just do the right thing, even if they know that it could result in personal harm. She also quotes one of my favorite things the Dr. King said to remind us (me?) about our (my?) judging things as “bad:” As she explains it:

Dr. King told the audience that, if God had let him choose any era in which to live, he would have chosen the one in which he had landed. “Now, that’s a strange statement to make,” King went on, “because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around…. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” Dr. King said that he felt blessed to live in an era when people had finally woken up and were working together for freedom and economic justice.

(To read her entire post, go to: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/january-15-2023 ).

What that says to me is that the best way to commemorate him today is to look for the stars in our cloudy, confused world.

One of my stars (besides Heather Cox Richardson) is Carrie Newcomer. She is a song writer/singer/poet/activist for positivity in the world. Today’s post was “Thoughts about MLK Day,” and it was all about hope. She included a lovely song about our need to take action now. You can read her comments and hear the song at: https://carrienewcomer.substack.com/p/mlk-day-thoughts.

Today, besides reflecting on these things, I’m working on my upcoming classes. I’m not a singer or an artist or a historian. What I am is a teacher. But I believe that what I teach can support the goals for peace and acceptance and equality for all people that Dr. King gave his life for. So I feel like the best way I can celebrate him today is working on that.

I will, however, have a special MLK meal tonight. Dr. King’s favorite foods apparently were classic Southern soul food dishes. Research says his favorite main dishes were fried chicken and smothered steak. Since I don’t deep-fry food and I almost never eat steak, I split the difference and decided to make Southern Smothered Chicken, which is chicken in an onion gravy sauce, served over mashed potatoes. He would have eaten that with collards, but I’m substituting kale that I got at the farmers market this weekend. (NOTE: I know I am committed to Meatless Mondays, but the focus is on the Meatless part, not necessarily Monday. So tomorrrow I will have a meatless day.)

So that’s my MLK Day celebration. Inspiration, Communication, Doing the Work that is Mine to Do, and a lovely meal in memory of an extraordinary man.

How about you? What are you doing to recognize MLK Day? And no pressure…As Meister Eckhart ACTUALLY wrote:

If a man had no more to do with God than to be thankful, that would suffice.

(typically stated as “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank You,” that would suffice.” But that isn’t what he wrote.)

Still, if you can take a moment to give thanks to Dr. King, if you can add an energy of hope to the current circumstances, if you can perform an act of service to the world…all those are wonderful ways to recognize Dr. King.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Celebrate Dr. King With Hope Today

  1. Thank you for this beautiful message on this day. I do like the MLK memorial, but I haven’t seen it in person. I seem him as “out of the rock” and so very fitting. It is a rather stern expression on his face in that memorial, so I guess I would say he is facing down fear. He knew the path he was on, and took it, and for us all that should be the message of hope you share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I said, I understand the idea of the rock-solid MLK memorial, because he was such a strong advocate for standing up against social injustice. I personally am more drawn to the side of him that advocated love, which I envision in a softer and more loving portrait. But more than anything, I am just glad that we have him down in our mall among the other leaders of our nation.


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