Guest post by Ann Saylor
Once in a while, a seemingly ordinary person rises up to be a hero, changing culture forever. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those men, and we now recognize him as a renowned American civil rights leader. He was hugely influential on American culture through his campaigns to end racial segregation and promote racial equality. To honor his legacy, the third Monday of January has been named a federal holiday. This year, it falls on January 19th.
Though many people have the day off from work or school, national service organizations have adopted the slogan A Day On, Not a Day Off to challenge Americans to rally together in service. Here are three ways your company can continue Dr. King’s legacy on Martin Luther King Day or throughout the year:
- Serve together. King said:
“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Where can you and your employees share a little love in your community? If you don’t already have a nonprofit partner in your corporate social responsibility plan, then find a daycare center, an animal shelter, a nursing home, or a community center (to name a few). Ask them how your employees can help, and make plans to serve.
- Work together to empower your community. Dr. King wisely believed:
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Study a community issue that is a fit with your company, such as homelessness, illiteracy, or hunger. Identify one of the root causes and develop a targeted action plan that will inspire change and strengthen impoverished areas of your community.
- Seek justice through advocacy. Rally your employees to speak up about community issues and challenge others to take action. Ponder Dr. King’s words in this quote:
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
Identify a cause and a message that is important to your employees. Craft a plan for how you will spread your message and start speaking up – even if it’s uncomfortable.
Want more information on the strategies above? Get a free copy of the Seasons of Service Curriculum complete with three half-day experiences for leading an MLK Day event. It also has 12 highly interactive lessons plans to explore ways to use your individual gifts and talents to change the world. Finally, it outlines 11 half-day engaging and empowering service-learning experiences to introduce youth to meaningful service. Request your copy by emailing cad@TheAssetEdge.net.
Ann Saylor is a nationally recognized trainer in positive youth development, service-learning, and play with purpose. She is also the co-author of 7 books including her latest, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, (published in September 2014 by Search Institute Press). Learn more through her website and her blog, or reach her at cad@TheAssetEdge.net or on Twitter @TheAssetEdge.