Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday falls right as the new year gets underway. It’s a time when many of us return to our regular routines after holiday breaks, a little fresher, and perhaps with new intentions or goals set for the new year. Each new year brings a renewed feeling of hope and potential. Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy each year on his birthday teaches us that we can work together to achieve better communities. His spirit gives us the momentum to carry the hopes for unity forward into action.
Dr. King teaches us that in addition to personal and family goals that we may be striving to achieve, we can become active participants in causes that are bigger than ourselves. Many of his famous words are etched into our national consciousness, but there is one quote that we carry with us in our work here at the Collaboration for Early Childhood:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
To flip that statement on its head, our lives begin the day we speak out about the things that matter. Children, families, educators, health professionals, and caregivers matter to us. We hope this year that you fight for what matters to you and your community. And if early childhood matters to you, let’s connect to deepen our impact in 2023!
The important work of breaking down inequitable systems and thinking about our role in making things better is year-round work. There are a lot of wonderful ways you can expand the celebration of Dr. King’s life and impact this year. Here are a few that we have compiled, many of which are family-friendly!
- Friday, January 13 – Beloved Community Teach-In hosted by The King Center (Register for free downloadable lesson plans)
- Monday, January 16 – The Oak Park Public Library will be open and will be celebrating Martin Luther King Day with a display in the Main Library Idea Box honoring Dr. King. Visitors can also participate in “Dream Hands” where they can share their dream for the future on a hand that will also be displayed.
- Monday, January 16 – King Day Celebrations at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center begin with a storytime
- Monday, January 16 – The Chicago History Museum also has events planned including a sing along and community fair. The Museum admission is free for Illinois residents on this day.
- Tuesday, January 17 – National Day of Racial Healing is taking place across the nation and there are a few events right here in the Chicagoland area, including at the Evanston Public Library, Dominican University, and The Promontory in Hyde Park.
Here are a few more opportunities that can be explored anytime to keep you inspired, and to keep you thinking.
- A visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Living Memorial
- Public art in Bronzeville that celebrates Dr. King as well as many other Black visionaries connected to the area. “Murals like this remind us of our historical heroes as well as future Black heroes, and they inspire us to keep creating, dreaming, and painting on life’s canvas,” says Vivian Harper, director of community strategy and development for Bright Star Community Outreach.
- Preparing for Justice: What You Can Do Starting from Birth – These suggestions offer some starting points for parents who want their children to develop a just and inclusive worldview.
- Creating Change through Action Curriculum and Compellation of Social Justice Resources – This resource-rich curriculum is designed for young activists and families and was created by the National Civil Right Museum at the Lorraine Motel.
Do you know of others that we are missing? Let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: flickr user wasfiakab and The Saint Louis Art Museum.