January 18 is MLK Day, a National Day of Service

In his 1963 book “Strength to Love,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “The ultimate measure of a man is … where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

We continue to see examples of the underlying inequity in American life, including unequal police response to protests based on color, increased police violence against African Americans and the overwhelming and disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on communities of color. In response, millions joined in the fight for racial justice and equity in their local communities and across the nation.

Aligning with the fight for equity, United Way of North Central Ohio’s work focuses on health, education and financial stability for every person in our community, particularly those in traditionally underserved neighborhoods.

As a community, we can all do better to guarantee that the basic human rights and freedoms of every person in north central Ohio are protected. Working United we can make our community a place where everyone has the resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive.

On January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, consider taking one or more of the following actions in order to honor Dr. King’s legacy and keep up his work in the 21st century.

Volunteer. Volunteer opportunities are difficult this year, but there are still safe ways you can impact another’s life. Offer to drop groceries off to a neighbor, make a phone call to check on a friend. Send a kind note to a healthcare worker.

Educate yourself about systemic racism and oppression. Spend a few hours on Martin Luther King Jr. Day reading, watching, or listening in order to learn more about our country’s history of racial injustice and how people are organizing for change.

To Read:

To Watch:

To Listen

Sign and share a petition. Good options include:

Support local minority-owned businesses and restaurants. You’ll find a list of Black-owned Ohio businesses here.

Talk to a child in your life about race. Reading a book is an easy way to teach this complex concept to children. Good options include:

Participate in a virtual event. The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission presents the 36th Annual MLK Awards and Commemorative Celebration on January 14.

Call or write your local or state officials to express your support for policies that promote racial justice.

Join a local NAACP chapter. The organization is open to everyone, no matter your race or ethnic background. Find Ohio NAACP info here.

These ideas are just a few ways you can get started. The fight for racial justice and equity should continue beyond MLK Day. It will take everyone working together, year-round, United for equity, United for change.

As Dr. King once said,  “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”