|“If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you, shall be your servant.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These words, from one of Dr. King’s most memorable sermons, compel us to act with even greater urgency as America faces the dual viruses of COVID-19 and racism. Indeed, we are confronted with the “fierce urgency of now.” January 17, 2022 marks the 27th anniversary of the MLK Jr. Day of Service that celebrates the civil rights leader’s birthday, his teachings, and his extraordinary life of service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to inspire all Americans to volunteer to help the most vulnerable among us, and to meet some of the most urgent needs in our local communities.
This year, in 2022, elected officials across the country will partner with national organizations, state and local service leaders, but most importantly, individual community members, to organize events that unite Americans around Dr. King’s vision of a more “beloved community.” Strong, empathetic leaders like President Biden, Vice President Harris, Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley, Governor Kate Brown, Oregon’s Democratic Congressional Delegation and our Democratic State Senators and State Representatives understand the need to empower individuals, to build bridges, and to address the systemic issues that perpetuate racial injustice, poverty, hunger, homelessness and mental health crises.
Honoring Dr. King’s life calls all of us to service. Here are a few MLK Day suggested volunteer opportunities to help others in your community:
- Stand Up Against Hunger. Throughout our communities, many people struggle with hunger every day. Finding a food pantry or food bank near you and learn what you can do to address food insecurity in your community.
- Inform and help others get vaccinated. Throughout our communities, some may still not have the information, tools or resources they need to get vaccinated or boosted. Serve others by starting a kind conversation and offering your help. Click here for vaccine information by county, and click here for testing locations.
- Welcome newcomers into our communities. Honor Dr. King by helping Afghan families land on their feet.
- Remember and honor servicemembers
- Make and deliver hygiene kits to the homeless
- Provide a healthy, hearty meal for an elderly or shut-in neighbor
- Do something really simple, but huge, like reading a book to a child
- Oregonians may also go to AllforGood.org and SOLVE Oregon to search for nearby volunteer opportunities.
On behalf of the Democratic Party of Oregon, have a wonderful MLK Jr. Day celebration.
Again, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We are faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”
Rosa Colquitt, PhD
Democratic Party of Oregon Vice Chair
Chair, Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus