By Cathy Harris

From religious, commemorative services to peace rallies, to parades, this past week, throughout America, citizens participated in birthday celebrations of the life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s birthday is a day that brings people of different races and cultures together like no other day of the year. On other days – especially during racial, ethnic and cultural challenges, one might ask, is the civil rights movement dead? Or, is the quest for equality asleep? There is much still to be done to make this the America of King’s dream.

Dr. King started something. It’s not as if we are there. Fulfilling the dream is a process that will always have need and opportunities for action.

While many of us remember the highly charged and fiery incidents – the boycotts, sit-ins, picket lines of the civil rights movement, for others, it is a vague memory that is clouded by the haze of life as they know it today. Those high profile civil rights activities have been replaced by subtler, less confrontational methods. How are you involved?

It is easy to sit in our safe little places and wait for others to act. Yes, it is important to celebrate Dr. King’s life, his values and his dream for equality, peace and justice. It is even more important to act.

Hats off to you if you are already involved. If not, you can pay homage to Dr. King by carrying his work forward. Make your voice heard in the classroom, at the polls, in civic organizations. Become a mentor for a child. Volunteer with the urban league or another organization whose mission is to positively impact some of your community’s ills. Support an adult literacy program. I logged on to the King Center website for the first time and in the right top corner the headline read, “Re-ignite Dr. King’s Dream by serving your community!” Then just below there are choices as to how:

  • Commit to service as a way of life
  • Find a service project tailored to my interests
  • Volunteer as a group

Then, just below that, you can put in your zip code and find opportunities close to home.

Go to to learn more