Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Day 2019
By Marcy Mistrett, CFYJ CEO
On Monday, the country will honor one of our most celebrated civil rights champions, the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King embraced non-violence as his tool for social change. He organized and mobilized thousands of men, women, and children to stand together for something bigger than incremental change—he marched for a dream—that Black Americans would have access to the, “riches of freedom and the security of justice.” More than 55 years ago, Dr. King forsake his own freedom for the greater good, and penned what may be one of his most critical calls to action in “A Letter from Birmingham Jail”, when he notes that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, and calls on us to fight injustice through direct-action, a critical component of non-violent resistance that was a cornerstone of his movement work.
So, as we approach a federal holiday that recognizes the tremendous legacy of Dr. King, we encourage all of you, in honor of his name, to make it a day-on, not a day off. A day when we engage in direct action to continue to fight for the voiceless, the tired, and the too often invisible people in our land who have yet to benefit from either justice or freedom.
This includes children in the adult criminal justice system—who, overwhelmingly, are children who come from tribal nations, African-American and Latinx communities. Who, recently, include immigrant children who are fleeing violence in their home countries to seek asylum in the United States. So today, if you are looking for a way to honor Dr. King and his legacy, we ask that you commit to taking action not only today, but throughout the year by:
- Become a Flikshop Angel, and send inspirational messages to individuals who have been incarcerated since they were children. Hearing from people in the community matters a great deal to people who are incarcerated.
- Join your state Statewide Advisory Group to ensure that the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), reauthorized in 2018, is fully implemented in your home state—so that children who come in contact with the justice system are removed from adult jails and get the supports and services they need in their communities to get back on the right path.
- Start a book club that focuses on readings about justice. CFYJ can get you started with our reading list.
- Participate in a local writing program that connects you to incarcerated youth—such as FreeMinds Book Club in Washington, DC or InsideOut Writers Program.
- Participate in, or lead a local event that bridges the arts and advocacy. In Washington, D.C. join us on February 6th, at Kerwin Hall at American University, there will be a 60 piece photographic exhibit of youth in the juvenile justice system by Richard Ross, accompanied by a panel of youth justice advocates talking about the state of reforms.
- Join the Movement by signing up to receive updates on ways you can get involved in our state and federal campaigns that roll back laws that send children, overwhelmingly youth of color, to adult jails and prisons.