Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is most often remembered for his work completed in the heated Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
However, to limit his work and impact to one arena could be considered a disservice to the late pastor, activist and humanitarian.
The Corporation for National & Community Service challenged organizations and people across America to remember King through using the day set aside in his honor as, “A day on, not a day off.”
According to the MLK Day website of the Corporation for National and Community Service, “The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the president’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to the most pressing national problems.”
The local NAACP chapter joined concerned members of the community to answer the call.
Rasharon King and local NAACP President Lawrence Armstrong met with about 15 adults and youth to serve lunch at the Cleveland Emergency Shelter Monday afternoon.
Armstrong, who serves on the CES board, said the food outreach was the group’s way of spending, “a day on.”
The group served “delicious” homemade chilli and chicken vegetable soup for almost 30 homeless adults and children. Crackers, candy, water and tea were also made available.
King said those present were encouraged to take seconds, thirds and fourths as well.
A staff member at the shelter said the volunteer effort was great.
“I can’t say it enough,” he said. “If I were to write it, it would have three exclamation marks.”
Monday’s day of service was a component in a three-day celebration in MLK’s honor. The local NAACP, 100 Black Men of Bradley County and the Ministerial Association hosted the events.
King said the energy for the events has been high.
“We had a wonderful word from Shaquana [Kennedy] on Saturday, who is a native of this area. She inspired youth, as well as those who are not youthful,” King said. “[Sunday], we had a powerful message at the church telling us it is not over until God says it is over. This morning we have been out in the community, and tonight we are celebrating [with the Dream Keeper’s Award ceremony].”
King continued, “We want to keep that going.”
Armstrong agreed before adding, “Basically, it allows people to interact no matter what they are going through.”
The three-day weekend celebration has become a local tradition in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Armstrong said he hopes to see the events grow in the coming years.
He said he would like “to see the community come together, not just the minority community, but the community as a whole. This is really a time for all people to come together … We invite and would like to see more interactions from all races because we all make up this community.”
King and Armstrong invited those interested in getting involved to attend the NAACP’s general membership meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. in the College Hill Recreation Center, 264 Berry St.
The MLK Day of Service is an effort to answer the question once posed by its namesake: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”