By Amy Bennett | January 15, 2019
On Monday, January 21, 2019, we celebrate the birth, life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., social activist, Baptist minister, and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who led the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s until his assassination in 1968. However, this year, the celebration on the federal holiday will likely be greatly impacted. The partial government shutdown has many of the National Park Service facilities closed down.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta is expected to remain shut down on what would have been King’s 90th birthday celebration. The visitor center which includes a museum, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and King’s birth home are currently closed. Visitors who plan to travel to Atlanta to learn more about Dr. King and his legacy will, however, be able to visit The King Center, which contains the crypts of King and his wife Coretta, since it is run by the King family not the National Park Service.
Did you know that Monday is also the only federal holiday to be designated by Congress as a national day of service? Another way to honor Dr. King is by volunteering on this special day. According to the website for the Corporation for National & Community Service, “Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence. MLK Day of Service is a way to honor his life and teachings by engaging in community action that continues to solve social problems. Service breaks down barriers by bringing people from different experiences together—volunteering can unite Americans of all ages and backgrounds while building stronger communities.”
If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities in your area, please go to the Corporation for National & Community Service’s website. In Indianapolis, there are several organized opportunities to serve including the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday, January 21, with Marian University! Please join us at 10:30 a.m. in Alumni Hall. The day will last until 2:30 p.m. and will include time for service, reflection, and a guest speaker. There will be various service opportunities including Holy Family Shelter, Riverside Park, Alpha Home, and St. Anthony Food Pantry.
In addition, there are also other Indianapolis venues celebrating Dr. King’s legacy with special programs and activities. Many of the following are also offering free or reduced admission fees:
Another way for Hoosiers to honor this great man would be to visit Martin Luther King Park at 17th and Broadway, just north of downtown Indianapolis. The park’s mission is “to raise awareness, provoke thought and inspire action to eliminate division and injustice.” It is over 14 acres and features the Landmark for Peace memorial statue designed by artist Greg Perry. The statue is truly impressive featuring both Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is the site where Robert Kennedy gave his speech calling for peace after King was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. It is in this spot where Kennedy delivered his well-known line that still resonates today:
“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
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