• Ayris T. Scales

No Time Off

Updated: Mar 17

Today marks the 26th anniversary in officially honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King. Named as a “day of service,” this MLK Day might be the most important recognition than any from years past. At a time when we should be reveling in the historic moment of welcoming our first Black woman Vice President Kamala Harris, the backdrop of our nation is reminiscent of what generations before us faced more than 50 years ago. A country, at that time, filled with people suppressed by overt gestures that evolved into passive-aggressive policies pushing covert White supremacy, has now bubbled up and boldly removed the white sheets to reveal the hidden stains of this nation.


Hate does not take a day off…

Inequality does not take a day off…

Oppression does not take a day off…

Resistance does not take a day off…


Nor should we.





The insurrection that recently took place at the U.S. Capitol was disturbing evidence reaffirming thisobservation. What we saw on January 6, was resistance from segments of White America that felt their “privilege” slipping away. It’s the same resistance that was evident with inequitable legislation during the Civil Rights era and aggressive attempts to dismantle a course changing movement. Thatsame resistance appeared again, and attempted to use the same violent tactics as a form of intimidation, and to disrupt our democracy. What we saw was a continuation of what this country has been propagating for centuries - hate, division, fear and blockage, but also what we have collectively affirmed, not on our watch.


These tactics and the current rhetoric of “taking back our country” are completely opposite of what Dr. King stood for and why our need to serve what is good and righteous every day is more important now than ever before. It is not only our responsibility, but our time to carry the mantle; to take no days off and continue the work of chipping away at remaining systemic issues. It is critical that we step up and amplify our advocacy around equality, equity and inclusion. This MLK Day, I ask that we each determine how we can respond to civil unrest and those factors seeking to marginalize targeted Americans.


Do not let this day be the only day in which you honor Dr. King’s legacy. If you’re wondering what you can do or how you can make a difference, here are a few ways to serve 365 days:


1. Run for Office: Be a voice and not an echo. One of the most effective ways to achieve that is to serve as an elected official to boost the number of diverse voices in political leadership. This is imperative now more than ever as we take time to reflect on the legacies of Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Cotton, JoAnn Robinson, Leah Chase, and Myrlie Evers who helped to chart the course of history by undergirding the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King and others. In the nation’s 100 largest cities, only six Black women serve as mayors. Among the 94 women serving in statewide elected executive offices, five are Black women. And while the 117th Congress will boast the largest number of overall Black members in the history of the House and in the history of the Congress, only 54 are women of color, of which 26 are Black women.


2. Seek Opportunities Committed to Service: Volunteer to support a nonprofit organization which are the lifelines to our communities. According to a recent report from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, 65 percent of nonprofits are experiencing a decrease in funding and 51 percent have seen significant loss of volunteers. By volunteering, you are empowering a community as you work together for a common goal. Also consider leadership development opportunities with organizations that are especially committed to advancing education, racial equity and women’s rights. Beyond the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. a few of these organizations include AmeriCorps, the National Urban Fellows program and the Claudia McKoin Academy. Check these out today, as deadlines to apply are imminent.


3. Mentor the Next Generation: We know our black and brown girls face disparities because of their race and gender. Mentorship creates the safe educational space they need to flourish and develop into well-rounded young women. Mentors are the lifeline that can interrupt destructive paths including early sexual activity, drug use, and the school-to-prison pipeline. I am appreciative of our NCBWDC chapter members who have stepped up to serve as mentors to young girls through our partnership with G.I.R.L. Inc., whose focus is on nurturing girls ages 10 through 16 with parents who are deployed by the military, incarcerated or completely absent in their lives. As January is National Mentoring Month, if you have not already done so, I encourage you to consider becoming a mentor as many of our girls are in need of extra support.


The reasons to serve are evident. The need to serve is clear. The ways to serve are abundant - the only question now is how will you? If you are seeking COVID safe opportunities for today, thenfollow us on social media or visit MLKDAY.gov. I look forward to seeing us flood social media with our acts of good and purpose this MLK Day of Service.


 

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Contributors: Tiffany E. Browne I Angela Richardson Katie Smith