4 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Europe
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived by his quote, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Born January 15, 1929, he is honored on the third Monday of January each year for his influence, inspiration and contributions to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. One of the most significant and uplifting African-American leaders in history, King led the activist campaign for constitutional rights in the U.S. from the mid-1950s until his assassination in April 1968. Even though Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not recognized in Europe, there are several ways we can celebrate his legacy as Americans living overseas.
1. Relive his famous speech.
On August 28, 1963, King addressed more than 250,000 civil rights advocates that had gathered in our nation’s capital to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” he declared from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His words defined the American Civil Rights Movement and helped pave the way for the success of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the end of legal segregation in the U.S. Relive the historical speech by watching a clip on YouTube or reading its transcript.
2. Watch a flick about civil rights.
Get a glimpse of what life might have been like for King and his fellow activists during the Civil Rights Movement by watching a reenactment on film. Movies like “Selma,” “Mississippi Burning,” “Boycott,” and “Our Friend, Martin,” share personal details of King’s life, while “The Butler,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Remember the Titans,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Long Walk Home” and “Rosa Parks” remind us of the monumental changes that were being fought for in the 1960s.
3. Read inspirational works.
Learn more about King’s life by immersing yourself in his biography or reading a book that inspired his role in civil rights activism. He is known to have read works by Henry David Thorough (“Civil Disobedience”), Plato (“The Republic”), Thomas Aquinas (“Summa Theologica”) and John Lock (“Treatises on Civil Government”). Or, head to the library and dive into a historical fiction novel set during the Civil Rights Movement, such as “One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-Garcia and “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.
4. Help out a local humanitarian organization.
King once said, “life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'what are you doing for others?” With the influx of refugees in Europe over the last year, our host nations are in dire need of help. Sign up to volunteer or donate money, clothing and nonperishable food items to a local organization, like the Deutches Rotes Kreuz, today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As you celebrate King and his noble contributions to our nation, remember: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”