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How to celebrate King's Day


On Independence Day, families watch fireworks. Thanksgiving's devoted to turkey and football.

But what to do on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, an American holiday so new that there aren't widespread traditions?

King led the movement for civil rights for African-Americans and equality for all. So his family wants the holiday to be more than a day off. They want it to be a national day of service on which people do hands-on things to help others.

"People working together and getting to know each other, that's improving the quality of relationships among people," says Coretta Scott King, 71, King's widow. "To improve race relations starts with relationships among people."

She suggests Americans take time to read to an elderly person or go grocery shopping for invalids. Schools need painting and voters need registering, she said.

The Web site for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (www.thekingcenter.com) suggests that people donate books about King, civil rights and black history to prisons, nursing homes or halfway houses. Planting a tree and flying the flag are also ways to honor King's memory.

Pub Date: 1/18/99

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