MCHR Diversity Spotlight - A Dream that Continues Today
In January, our nation recognizes the birthday of one of the most visible advocates of nonviolent direct action for social change, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929, and we mark his birthday with a host of celebrations each year throughout the United States. Dr. King’s birthday became a federal holiday on Nov. 2, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill passed by Congress.
In 1994, in keeping with Dr. King’s legacy of advocacy and assistance for others, Congress designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as a national day of service, making it the only federal holiday so observed. The MLK Day of Service is a featured part of United We Serve, the President's national call-to-service initiative, asking Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to the nation's most pressing problems. The national holiday celebration occurs on the third Monday in January. On October 16, 2011, a monument to Dr. King was dedicated in Washington, D.C., the first on the prestigious National Mall honoring a civilian.
In the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to equality, state human rights agencies, such as the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), were created. Established in 1958, the MCHR’s goal is to foster mutual understanding and eliminate discrimination through education and outreach and the enforcement of the Missouri Human Rights Act. The MCHR investigates complaints of discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodations because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age (in employment only), and familial status (in housing only). If you believe you have been discriminated against due one of these protected categories, contact the MCHR at 877-781-4236, or take this assessment to determine if the MHRA applies to your situation.
The theme of the MLK Day of Service is “A Day On, Not a Day Off” and is the perfect time for Americans to actively work toward solutions to social problems and move our nation closer to achieving the ideals of Dr. King. MLK Day is a national celebration, but its emphasis is on local action, working close to home to create a better, more equitable and just society. You can celebrate MLK Day by participating in any of these or many other inspiring events around our state:
- Warrensburg: The University of Central Missouri's Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will have several related events. Programs include the MLK Community Service Awards presented at the monthly business luncheon of the Greater Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 15. This event will begin at 11:45 a.m. and will be held at the University of Central Missouri Elliot Union, Room 236/238, 511 South Holden St. The MLK Freedom Scholarship Dinner on Jan. 21 will feature keynote speaker Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a labor economist and noted author and commentator. This program begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be located in the Elliot Union, Room 236/238/240. Tickets for the dinner must be purchased in advance in the UCM Mentoring, Advocacy, and Peer Support Office, Dockery 212, 660-543-4156. On Jan. 22, there will be an Issues Forum on “Civil Rights and the Supreme Court” at noon in UCM’s Wood 100 and another entitled “The Great Debate” at 2:15 p.m. in UCM’s Elliot Union, Room 236. For more information, contact the MAPS Office at 660-543-4156 or e-mail Penny Lund at email@example.com.
- Lee’s Summit: “Taking Strides to a Healthier You” is the theme of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, to be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the Pavilion at John Knox Village, 520 Northwest Murray Road. Those in attendance will be able to talk with professionals in healthcare and financial planning, as well as participate in fitness training activities from 6 to 7:30 p.m. There are individuals providing expertise about weight management, eye care, and dental care, as well as offering hearing, glucose, and blood pressure checks. Mammogram and prostate screenings and flu shots will also be available. For more information, call 816-969-1000.
- Independence: Join the City of Independence in celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20 at the Truman Memorial Building, 416 East Maple. The theme is "His Legacy Through Our Eyes" and special music will be provided by the Metropolitan Community Choir. The keynote speaker will be Anita Russell, President of the Kansas City Chapter of the NAACP. For more information, call 816-325-7000.
- Kansas City Area: Join Metropolitan Community College (MCC) for the Fourth Annual MLK Day of Service. Each MCC campus will host a number of community service projects as a special way to celebrate the day with friends and fun. There are many projects to choose from, including light cleaning at City Union Mission, making fleece blankets for Children’s Mercy Hospital in conjunction with the Penn Valley campus; cleaning and organizing all donated items at ReStore at one of two locations with the Blue River campus or Business & Technology College; cleaning, organizing, or painting at the Synergy Women's Center with the Maple Woods campus; or working with youth at the Langsford Boys Home with the Longview campus. Contact the Campus Life and Leadership Office on the campus of your choice to find out more: Blue River at 816-604-6635, Business & Technology at 816-604-5263, Longview at 816-604-2130, Maple Woods at 816-604-3013, or Penn Valley at 816-604-4120.
- Kansas City: On Jan. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., join Reconciliation Services and Kansas City residents to discuss the topic of creating equal opportunities for all Americans at America’s Sunday Supper, a national movement that promotes bringing people together to share meal, discuss critical issues facing the world today, and inspire friends and neighbors to take action. The event will be held at 3101 Troost Ave. For more information, contact Renea Nash at 816-777-0568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kansas City: Volunteer for a two-hour shift at Harvesters Community Food Network on Jan. 20 to sort and repackage food donations and participate in a thirty-minute service learning activity. For more information or to find an available shift, call the Volunteer Services Department at 816-929-3090 or e-mail email@example.com.
- Kansas City: Join like-minded community members at Hillcrest Thrift Store, 6520 Northwest Prairie View Road, to serve during open hours as a cashier, sorter, or other role. Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Contact 816-505-0200 for more information or to schedule a time to volunteer.
- Rolla: Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T) is a time for students, faculty, staff, and community members to participate in the celebration on Jan. 20. The day begins at 8 a.m. with registration and a hot breakfast buffet, followed by various service projects. A sack lunch is provided to all registered participants. For more information, contact S&T Student Life at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Eldon: MLK Family Fitness Day engages students, families, and community members in healthy lifestyle activities such as choosing the proper foods, developing an exercise plan, and refraining from smoking and using drugs. Volunteer with AmeriCorps and school staff to help make this meaningful event a success. The activities begin at 3 p.m. at the Eldon Upper Elementary School, 409 East 15th St. For more information, call Karyn Bonney at 573-392-8060 or e-mail Karyn_Bonney@mail.eldonk12.mo.us.
- Waynesville: Assist in setting up and tearing down tables and chairs or preparing dinner for the Armed Services YMCA’s No Dough Friday on Jan. 24. The event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at 403 School St. For more information, contact Amber Stone at 573-329-4513 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
- Columbia: The University of Missouri celebrates MLK Day with featured speaker Hill Harper, actor, author, and youth advocate, on Jan. 29. Hill is best known for his role on “CSI: New York,” though he is also a volunteer for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, has earned graduate degrees in law and public administration from Harvard, and is the author of a New York Times bestseller, “Letters to a Younger Brother.” The event begins with a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. and presentation from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Missouri Theatre, 203 South Ninth St. Free tickets are available beginning Dec. 2 at the Missouri Theatre and MSA/GPC Box Offices. For more information, call 573-882-5838 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Columbia: The Columbia Values Diversity Celebration will bring people together throughout the community to share in a special program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 16. Attendees will enjoy breakfast and an address by keynote speaker Steve Pemberton, the chief diversity officer and divisional vice president for Walgreens. The annual Columbia Values Diversity Awards will be presented at the celebration. Pre-registration is required, and the deadline to register is 5 p.m. on Jan. 10. For additional information, contact OCA@GoColumbiaMo.com or call 573-874-6386.
- St. Louis: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Commission of Missouri will host its 28th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. State Celebration Kick-off on Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Harris-Stowe State University’s Main Auditorium, 3026 Laclede Ave. Nationally-syndicated columnist and journalist Roland Martin is the keynote speaker for the event, which is themed, “Focusing on Family Financial Freedom.” E-mail email@example.com or call 314-340-3385 for more information.
- St. Louis: Join the University of Missouri- St. Louis and the St. Louis community on Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. for their MLK Day Celebration at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, One University Blvd. Wes Moore, a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, and host of Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network, will be the guest speaker, and a program for children ages 5 to 16, hosted by the University’s College of Education, will run concurrently. For more information, call Kathleen Falcon at 314-516-5695.
- St. Louis: Volunteers are needed on Jan. 15 from 4 to 7 p.m. to assist the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis with the Samaritan Feet Event by greeting and registering the children, filling buckets with clean water, washing the feet of the children, and retrieving the correct shoe sizes for participants. Since 2003, Samaritan's Feet has demonstrated an act of servant-leadership and humility by washing the feet of more than 4 million people in more than 60 nations and providing them with shoes. For more information, contact Indigo Sams at 314-335-8101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kirksville: On Jan. 20, the Multicultural Affairs Center at Truman State University will host the 6th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegiate Challenge. This year, students, faculty, and staff volunteers will go out into the local community and make their day off from school “A Day On” by helping community partners with projects that they may not have the time or resources to complete. The event begins with registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies, team building activities, and the completion of projects. For more information or to register, visit http://truservice.truman.edu.
- Springfield: View “Jim Crow to Barack Obama,” a documentary by Denise Ward Brown, at the Plaster Student Union Theater on the campus of Missouri State University, 901 South National Ave., on Jan. 18 at 2 p.m. The film seeks to inspire constructive, intergenerational conversation about race in America. The filmmaker will be present at the showing, and a discussion will be held after the documentary. Contact the Springfield NAACP for ticket information by calling 417-873-6386.
- Joplin: A breakfast honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. will kick off the week-long celebration at Missouri Southern State University. The guest speaker will be Jerrod Hogan, founder of Rebuild Joplin, an organization formed in the wake of the tornado on May 22, 2011. Tickets are $5 per person and can be purchased at the MSSU Ticket Office or online. Two performances by MLK authority and impersonator Greenfair “Brother” Moses III will be held on Jan. 22; the first will take place in Corley Auditorium at 1 p.m., with Moses reciting King’s famous speech, “Let Freedom Ring,” and the second will be at 7 p.m., also in Corley Auditorium, where Moses will recite King’s sermon “A Knock at Midnight.”
- For more information on Dr. King’s life and legacy of social justice, plan a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. The center was opened in 1968 thanks to the dedication of Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King, to the ideals of the American Civil Rights movement. The repository at the center consists of Dr. King’s papers and those of the organization he co-founded, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as the records of eight major civil rights organizations and several individuals active in the movement. The archives also include more than 200 oral history interviews with Dr. King’s teachers, friends, family, and civil rights associates. The King Center is at the hub of a 23-acre National Historic Site, which brings one million visitors each year. Free attractions include the birth home, the crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King, exhibits at Freedom Hall, gift shop/information facility, and reflecting pool. For more information, call 404-526-8900.
- Visit the website of the Corporation for National and Community Service to find out more about the MLK Day of Service. The site includes MLK Day Legacy of videos featuring civil rights luminaries Congressman John Lewis, Ruby Bridges, Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, and former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, reminding us of the importance of keeping Dr. King's legacy of service alive. Find a MLK Day of Service project in your community or list your project so others can participate. For more information, e-mail MLKDay@cns.gov.
If you choose to celebrate, we encourage you to seek opportunities in your community to help make America a place of freedom, opportunity, fairness, and justice, which are hallmarks of the American dream. Enjoy the holiday, and do something positive in your community – remembering to support the MLK Day of Service as “A Day On, Not a Day Off.”