“The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration … Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress.”
– Coretta Scott King, 1983, The Washington Post (source)
Celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. is something that our country does every year. Some use it as a day to pay silent respect to heroes of the Civil Rights Movement (which continues to this day), while some may see the day as little more than a work holiday.
But especially this year, on the heels of the progress made since the passing of George Floyd and the actions that followed, this day can – and should – be used for so much more. On this day, and in the days leading up to it, we must reevaluate how our communities, especially marginalized communities, need us and how we as communicators can become better allies and champions of justice and equity.
In the 52 years since the assassination of Dr. King, silence and indifference have often been more of an enemy than brute force. But as advertisers, writers, content creators and more, we have the privilege every day to come to work and make a difference with our words, our ideas and our art. MLK himself was a man of ideas, a man whose words ignited tangible change. Still, despite his gentle nature and calls for a nonviolent movement, Dr. King was highly criticized and even jailed for his social work.
MLK Day should serve as a reminder that doing the right thing is not always easy, and that we will more than likely face adversity along our journey, whether that’s criticism from others or even pushback from clients. Staying true to and grounded in your values, mission and vision is a small step toward making a greater impact.
The resounding message Dr. King left behind was one of hope. A message of not only looking to a brighter future, but also doing the work that it takes to get there. As an agency, we aim to be a part of the solution by doing the work to educate, empower and persuade others to join the mission to create a more equal and just world for everyone.
Resources to learn more about MLK:
- You’ve heard of it all your life, but have you actually listened to it?
I Have A Dream
- The King Center’s King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Global Summit
- Marcus Center’s 37th Annual Dr. MLK Jr Virtual Celebration
- A list of Books about MLK for adults and children
- Movies to watch: Selma, King in the Wilderness, I Am MLK Jr.
- The King Center’s Live Book Reading of “Love Will See You Through”