Each year, Americans honor the life and times of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and gain an opportunity to explore his words and the meaning of what this man represented to millions of people of all colors worldwide.
There are many ways to celebrate the life of the slain 1960s civil rights leader. Some people choose to attend ceremonies, while others decide to make their own personal observation.
Soon the King memorial in Washington, D.C., will be completed, a task set for either late 2008 or 2009. It will represent the first memorial on the National Mall to honor an African-American. As the official Web site states, the memorial is intended to be personally transformative for visitors, growing a sense of commitment to the promise of positive change and active citizenship.
It is in the spirit of citizenship and volunteerism that communities around the country are engaging in projects that appropriately reflect the life and spirit of King.
David Eisner -- CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency charged by Congress with overseeing the annual service effort -- noted correctly that participating in community service projects on King Day creates a living memorial to this national hero. And one volunteer agency in this area is honoring King in an impressive manner.
The West Seneca Youth Bureau of Western New York AmeriCorps has joined with the Hands On Network to bring to Buffalo "Seats for Social Justice," a public art project that celebrates the lives of King and Rosa Parks.
Along with Claudette Colvin, one of the originators of the Birmingham bus boycott, and AmeriCorps Director Kristin McSwain, members will recruit 30 artists who will design themes for bus seats. Then, with the help of 400 community residents, the designs will transform the bus seats into social commentary about civil rights and other social justice issues. The completed buses will travel to cultural and social landmarks in the area.
King did so much in such a short period of time to transform the lives of Americans and affect the lives of so many around the world. He inspired and continues to inspire everyday people, from the young person next door who may be just learning the famous words of the "I Have A Dream" speech at the legendary 1963 March on Washington to a young person in South Africa who is beginning to understand what those words really mean.