Honoring MLK’s legacy through service
By Phyllis Hayes and Harrel Townsend, Jr.|
for the Argonne African American
Employee Resource Group
Reflecting on the tremendous legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in light of the anniversary of his birth and his tragic assassination, you can’t help but wonder whether we are doing justice to honor a man who made the supreme sacrifice to further mutual respect and promote a better way for life for all. What can we do to honor his message of racial harmony, non-violence and love?
The national observance of King’s birth was the fruit of much struggle. For 17 years following his death, there was no national MLK Day. After a protracted political campaign, legislation passed in 1986 making January 15 a national holiday commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Twenty-five years ago, the focus of the holiday shifted to service to others, in keeping with Dr. King’s legacy, and the national Martin Luther King Day of Service was begun.
On this day, we challenge ourselves to combine our respective strengths and passion to provide solutions to our most pressing national concerns. Every member of the Argonne community can strive this goal for daily in their professional lives. Let us not take this day of service for granted, and remember the principle that Dr. King’s life modeled for us: Progress is neither comfortable nor guaranteed. While Argonne seeks science and engineering solutions to grand challenges for the nation and the world, our service and direct action can cut through cynicism and negativity to improve our communities.
If we wish never to grow numb to King’s tremendous sacrifice nor to the meaning of his life, then this holiday beckons us to search within ourselves. In Dr. King’s own words, “Every [one] must decide whether [they] will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”