Honor the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Social Justice Heroes on January 20th, Inauguration Day

What a weird juxtaposition–this week in the United States we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and we experience the inauguration of an openly racist, xenophobic, rapist. I’ve been thinking a lot about what individual activists can do to keep our spirits up in spite of what is to come. I think it is vital we resist. I also think that if MLK, Jr. was still alive he would lead us in peaceful, loving resistance. Because we don’t have his leadership in person, we can be inspired by his legacy to do something on January 20th!

I’m sure there’s some of y’all who are just going to self medicate to make Inauguration Day survivable. That’s totally okay–stay alive! We need you! But if you want to do something, I have compiled a list of ideas to get your juices flowing. How can you build up your light and the light of others?

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. Host a dinner.

Bring friends together, talk about how to find hope, past times you struggled and triumphed, remember how we got through the Bush years. Discuss interrupting White Supremacy, social justice movements that we can learn from and build on, and share things that are giving you hope and resilience. Repair the World has some great hosting guides for dinner discussion (from a Shabbat perspective) around racial and social justice.

Dara and I got a calling from the Goddess to plan a dinner focused on Love & Resistance, a sort of revival for social justice. (We’ve got so much going on we tried to ignore it, but the way callings work it just couldn’t be squashed.) We want folks to feel energized to change the world and work for peace. We engaged my friend Rick Sorkin as a co-host and it has rolled out into something really fabulous. I can’t wait to share about it!

The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.
–- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

2. Share about social justice ancestors that are meaningful to you.

What if our feeds were full of hope and stories of resistance on January 20th instead of doom and gloom?

I’m really interested in bringing in the legacies of social justice folks who didn’t rise to the level of international notoriety that MLK, Jr. did. So many people have left their footprints in our past. Ever since the election, when I pray I ask for help and resilience from our social justice ancestors who bled so that we can have the freedoms we do.

Write about people’s stories who inspire you. Especially if you have a Grandmother or relative who is unsung but who inspires love and resistance! I love those stories. Feel free to link below in the comments and hashtag #loveandresistancejan20.

3. Bang pots and pans!

At 6PM Pacific time there is a coordinated neighborhood action called Bang the Pots, Raise a Din in keeping with the Latin American tradition of registering protest against the government by banging pots and pans. What I love is that it is so accessible and easy–just go out on your porch and make some noise! Engage your neighbors!

4. Go see Hidden Figures!

This movie is incredible, it celebrates pioneering Black women at NASA. It is simultaneously a math action movie, civil rights movie, Mad Men level vintage 60s gorgeousness, has such compelling storytelling modalities, breaking glass ceilings, busting through limiting beliefs and a really sweet romance! I cried twice! It’s super important we go see these types of films in the theater so future fabulous movies centering Black women continue to be funded!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Hidden Figures broke box office records on he who must not be named’s inauguration day?

A nation that continues year after year, to spend more money on military defense, than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

5. Watch 13th on Netflix!

13th is excellence in documentary storytelling. It’s compelling, moves quickly and keeps your jaw dropping about how the prison system went from a national incarceration rate in the 500,000s to the 2,000,000+ prison population rate we have now. It shows how slavery’s abolition in the 13th amendment lead to the current prison industrial complex. I think every American should be required to watch this movie before they graduate high school. It also reminds us at the end that oppression is a beast that continually changes its form and we need to be ready for it.

How are you making commitments to social justice work from the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and our other social justice ancestors? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.
Longevity has its place.
But I’m not concerned about that now.
I just want to do God’s will.
And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain.
And I’ve looked over.
And I’ve seen the promised land.
I may not get there with you.
But I want you to know tonight,
that we, as a people will get to the promised land.
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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