Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represented nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement. The battle for racial equality and against discrimination was different back then. States still had laws on the books that segregated people according to race. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 superseded these discriminatory laws, though it took years for different localities to modernize and get past their antiquated views and policies.
Today, there are no laws on the books in the United States that are blatantly racist, and Dr. King was a significant driver in making that happen. We still have work to do, as a society and as individuals. There are systemic problems in the criminal justice system, and individuals need to work to overcome their individual biases. George Floyd and many others taught us this lesson. But we’ve come a long way since JIm Crow laws were in effect.
A Time for Social & Emotional Wellness
We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, where people are taking steps to stay healthy. Many have chosen to socially distance from one another, and some states have issued different mandates in response to COVID-19. So, social and emotional wellness can be challenging. But, use this day as a reason for taking steps to improve your emotional and mental health.
Start by checking in with a friend. You can even be intentional about choosing someone who comes from a different background than your own. See how they’re doing. Use this day as a conversation starter, and talk about how far we’ve come, and how far we need to go to improve relations between different groups of people. Take Dr. King’s memory and turn it into a mission.
And, practice a little gratitude today. Things aren’t perfect, but people like Dr. King have made things better. Take a moment to be thankful for what you do have, and what we have achieved as a society. Think about some of the hardships that many of our parents and grandparents had to endure during the time of Dr. King. We have a different lens on these problems today, and we have a keen awareness for what it means to be well, to be inclusive, and to be kind.