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How Do You Honor MLK Day?
by Countable
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  • Barry
    01/16/2018
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    I volunteered with Jersey Cares, a clearing house of volunteer opportunities within my home state, NJ. The service project was held at Dickinson HS in Jersey City, NJ. Folks from all different backgrounds assembled to paint beautification murals in the high school and created “first night” care packages for children in crisis who are entering homeless shelters. Volunteers hand decorated bags filled with hand crafted scarfs and pillows, hygiene kits, and a personal card written to show the children that the community cares. Volunteering on MLK Day has become a yearly event for me. As a lifelong union member, I realized early in my professional life that obstacles to happiness, success and a healthy life can be overcome by working together with others in my work community. Despite many differences with co-workers in my job, we are all united by our common work. If we act alone we are handicapped by isolation. However, if my co-workers come together in the workplace as a single collective force, we create a powerful united voice to stand on common ground with our employer. Dr. King exemplified that same type of dignified leadership during his life. He recognized that a single voice is impotent against a monolith of oppression, so he organized the often helpless members of the community into a single powerful voice. This collective voice empowered alienated individuals to stand up against racial oppression and expose the hypocrisy of American moral authority. How could the United States lead the world if they tolerated injustice at home? Dr. King took the high road, exposing injustice with dignified leadership and helped to change our society for the better. The saddest part of this story is that Dr. King did not live to see the fruits of his efforts. The events on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. King was assassinated by a single gunman at the Lorraine Motel, cut short the life of a great American leader. However, many folks are unaware that Dr. King was in Memphis to help protest the unjust working conditions of African American sanitation workers in the city. Dr. king realized that civil rights would never be attained without full economic rights for African Americans. Furthermore, he realized that the war on poverty would never be won without a broad based people’s movement against economic and racial injustice. The last evening of his life was marked by the famous “mountaintop” speech in which he recognized that he may not see the day when all Americans enjoy the benefits of full citizenship in our society, but he seemed at ease with this fact and apparently unafraid to surrender to the forces of injustice. While he did not survive to see the fruits of his efforts, the change occurred nonetheless and his sacrifice helped fulfill the principles of freedom espoused by our founding fathers. This union worker will never forget that Dr. King sacrificed his life to help working people achieve dignity and respect in the workplace. Dr. King was a selfless leader who made it his mission to make American society inclusive. It is an honor to sacrifice but a few hours of my Martin Luther King, Jr holiday to carry on his mission of justice and equality for ALL Americans. Barry Kushnir 68 West 8th Street Bayonne, NJ 07002 291-344-7353

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