MLK is a day on, not a day off. After hearing this phrase multiple times throughout my service year, it finally clicked on the day of the March. While most business and offices were closed on MLK Day, AmeriCorps St. Louis served on January 15th, to celebrate and remember Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy he left for the St. Louis community. The sound of jazz enveloped us as we stepped into the Old Courthouse and made our way upstairs to the balcony. Powerful singers and orators filled the room with empowering words and I was forced to really think about my own service- although I am proud of what I have accomplished this year so far, I questioned my lack of knowledge about social justice and human rights issues in St. Louis and needed to ask myself how many times I responded with silence in difficult situations rather than taking action.
Inspired, I decided to call my sister who works in a homeless shelter in Syracuse, NY. Not only does she serve meals to guests, but she helps them with their resumes and is just a source of comfort in the shelter. I told her that I admire her for being engaged and challenging herself in Syracuse and after MLK Day, I wanted to acknowledge her for what she is giving to Syracuse.
Something that I have been thinking about is how lucky I am to be able to serve with AmeriCorps and perhaps that AmeriCorps programs are accessible only to certain people who have enough to time/money/acceptance to learn about themselves, take advantage of trainings and certifications, and travel. Some individuals are forced to grow up too quickly without knowledge of AmeriCorps or similar programs and I realized that serving is actually a privilege I am lucky enough to have. After participating in MLK Day, I was reminded of a possible future career of recruiting for AmeriCorps in communities that might not have heard of service programs and the benefits of participating in a year of service.