Observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in the Pandemic

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Celebrated the third Monday in January to honor the achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., this year’s celebration is today.

King first came to national prominence during a bus boycott by African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. A Baptist minister who advocated the use of nonviolent means to end racial segregation, he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and led the 1963 March on Washington.

The most influential of African American civil rights leaders during the 1960s, he was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and employment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Easton Town Hall, Public Library, Park and Recreation, Senior Center and Department of Public Works are closed to observe the holiday. The colliding pressures of a pandemic, political unrest and calls for social justice reform, this Day of Service is unlike any other.

But the limitations of social distancing don’t mean the day has to be any less impactful. Eastonites are great at rolling up their sleeves to help their communities, and there are plenty of ways to do so even while stuck at home.

You can pick up the phone and call an elderly neighbor or stop in and see how they are doing. Maybe they need help with groceries or shoveling during the next snow storm. Or maybe they would just like to talk and tell you about their lives during these isolated and lonely times.

To learn where to donate blood, enter your zip code into the search tool set up by the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross has a special need for donations from fully-recovered coronavirus survivors. Those who have fully recovered from the virus are also urged to consider donating convalescent plasma which may contain antibodies help critically ill Covid patients recover.

The Easton Public Library, in collaboration with the Easton Diversity & Inclusion Task Force (EDIT), will present an inspirational lawn sign exhibit, featuring select quotations from some of the world’s most valued diverse voices. The signs will be exhibited on the Library’s front lawn. 

The Library encourages submissions of quotations of well-known and lesser-known individuals who have made a mark to further social justice and alleviate implicit bias. To submit quotations for consideration in the exhibit visit the Library’s webpage: https://www.eastonlibrary.org/voices-of-diversity. Read more about the project here.

The Easton Public Library has chosen “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult as its 2021 One Book/One Town Community Read. The novel, published in 2016, includes themes of race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion. MLK Day is a fine time to start reading the book and make plans to participate in themed programs planned for January through April, including a book discussion.

The town has openings on boards and commissions and is always looking for volunteers. What better time to make a commitment to get involved and volunteer? Or join one of Easton’s vibrant service organizations. The opportunities for service are limited only by one’s imagination. Eastonites are an energetic and generous bunch. There is no better time than MLK Day to reach out in service to others.

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