While this holiday holds historical importance as a commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s sacrifices and role as a premiere civil rights leader, this year it is even more significant. With the inauguration of Barack Obama, our nation's first African-American president, slated for the same day, January 19, 2009 offers us an ideal teachable moment, as well as one we can all learn and benefit from. Here are a couple of easy ways to make the most of it.
1. If you are attending the inauguration, send daily updates
If you already have a blog, this is an excellent opportunity to share your perspective as a Muslim with a wider audience. The experience of attending this moment in the history of the United States will and can be covered from so many angles. There needs to be a Muslim perspective as well.
If you don't care for or have a blog, or you do not feel comfortable expressing yourself so publicly, at least send your thoughts via email to family and friends or through Facebook, which allows you to share notes with your friends.
2. If you are not attending, watch it live with family and friends
Just as election night 2008 was an event that drew house parties not unlike those hosted for football games, do the same for the inauguration. If you've got a large screen television, invite your family members and friends over to watch this incredible moment together.
3. Talk to the children in your family about why this is important
Read books about Martin Luther King Jr. and his struggles before bedtime. Discuss not only who he was but also, how Barack Obama was able to attain the highest office in our country because of the sacrifices of Dr. King and millions of others like him who struggled against racism and continue to do so today.
4. Visit special exhibits or participate in events in your city devoted to Martin Luther King Jr. or the civil rights movement
Check out local museums, libraries or community centers that may be exhibiting photos and memorabilia of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. Attend lectures or seminars doing the same, as well as any peace marches or rallies.
5. Help your your mosque, Islamic center, organization or youth group participate in the National Day of Service
January 19 has been designated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Thousands of Americans across the country will be participating in projects that serve their communities. Get your mosque, Islamic center or organization to do the same. For more information, please visit http://www.mlkday.gov/