I always devote at least part of MLK Day to learning something new about race, racism, and/or past or current civil rights movements here or abroad. Even though I’ve actively studied these subjects for many years, there’s always so much that I don’t yet know.
This year, in memory of civil rights icon Grace Lee Boggs (June 27, 1915 – October 5, 2015), who I had the honor of meeting and learning from in the early 1990s but whose subsequent thinking I’d not followed as closely as I ought to have done, I’m going to watch a documentary about her life and also start reading her 2011 book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century.
In accordance with our MLK Day Vegan Challenge, I encourage everybody to make a plan to learn something (or, even better, begin a long-term learning process) today.
The best thing to do, if you can, is to attend one or more MLK Day events in your area. Unless you are a civil rights or anti-racist activist year-round, please don’t go with the idea of somehow finding a way to promote veganism or animal rights. Focus on listening and learning instead.
Whether or not you are able to attend an event, you could take advantage of the wonders of the internet to deepen your understanding of MLK himself or to investigate the history of the civil rights movement in your own city, town, or state.
You could watch a documentary. If you’re not clear on the basic outlines of the civil rights movement, you could start working your way through the Eyes on the Prize series. If you’re looking for lesser-known information, you could watch Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock or The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.
You could start to read a book. Here are the three I’m recommending for MLK Day this year:
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement by Barbara Ransby
The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It by Jo Ann Robinson
The Rebellious Life of Mrs Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
Whatever you do, please do come back here to share any insights you glean that might be useful in our shared struggle for peace and freedom for everybody.
Here are two more recommended books…
Intersectionality by Patricia Hill Collins
March by John Lewis
And one strongly recommended documentary…
13th directed by Ava DuVernay