Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: A Day On, Not a Day Off This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     On Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. Day, I volunteered at the local Make a Difference Foundation and VolunteerCenter for a very special service project inspired by Coretta Scott King, thewife of the late civil rights leader. She said that the best way to commemoratethe life of her husband is to give back to the community.

My friends and Iwent to a church that helps those seeking jobs and financial assistance. Thechurch focuses its efforts on those of minority descent. We spent the day withchildren and learned with them about Dr. King and his important message. We heardan amazing guest speaker whose ancestors were from Ghana, Africa. He taught thechildren how to play a special kind of drums and other musical instruments, toldus folk tales and even taught us some songs. Everyone learned about respectingdifferent ethnic groups and cultures that day.

Next, we watched a video ofDr. King giving his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Because they werevery excited and restless, I was wary that the children would not understand hisdeep message or pay attention to the film. But when I tried to stop the tapeafter the speech, the children begged me to watch the rest. Afterward, I sat withone girl, Jessica, and asked her what some of her dreams were. She told me thatshe wanted everyone to have enough money so that they would not go hungry andthat she wanted the parks to be clean.

Jessica and I made cards forU.S. troops, assembled patriotic wreaths to give to a veteran's shelter, anddecorated patches to be sewn onto a commemorative quilt. We also made braceletsand booklets in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. for them to takehome.

When the kids gathered for a closing discussion, I was stillskeptical about whether or not they understood the importance of the holiday orif they simply thought it was a fun day off from school. When Jessica raised herhand and said she had learned that everyone is equal and should be treated thatway, I felt the day truly had impacted the kids as much as it did me.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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