What are you doing for others? This was the question that Martin Luther King Jr asked of himself and he pursued this question with everything he had.
As a result of pursuing this question, he achieved all kinds of things. He was the most recognizable face and voice of the Civil Rights Movement. He was Times’ Man of the Year in 1963. the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Before he died, he was awarded the American Liberties Medallion from American Jewish Committee, the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book Stride Toward Freedom. He had published books and given important speeches and changed the course of history in this country.
And yet it was not the accomplishments that mattered. It was the intention behind the accomplishments. That intention alone was praise worthy even if none of those achievements happened. When MLK Jr thought about his eulogy, he didn’t want people to mention all those awards. At his funeral, he said,
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.
When I think about my eulogy, I would love people to say these things about me, too. And in order for that to happen, I have to do something for others. Today, to honor Martin Luther King Jr and as part of my 12 month giving challenge, I’ll support a local homeless shelter.
Homeless shelters get a lot of attention around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but people experiencing homelessness need help all year long. A donation now of time or money will help your local shelter will make a big difference.
You can give time
Many shelters need help preparing and serving meals, driving people to work, interviews, appointments, or providing training on computer software, resume skills etc.
You can give money
But don’t underestimate your shelters need for money, so if you’re not interested in volunteering or don’t have the time to volunteer, remember it takes a lot of money to run a homeless shelter, and a small donation to your local shelter would be so welcomed.
Someone will be able to say that day
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., you can know that today you did something to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And maybe, just maybe, your donation to that shelter, gave a man the chance he needed to get back on his feet.
This is just one idea on what you can do to honor his legacy, but I’d love to hear other suggestions.
What will you do for Martin Luther King Jr Day?