Want to honor Martin Luther King? Here are 50 ways, for starters

A man walks past Ebenezer Baptist Church, a historic site where Martin Luther King Jr. was baptized, ordained a minister and, finally, eulogized.
A man walks past Ebenezer Baptist Church, a historic site where Martin Luther King Jr. was baptized, ordained a minister and, finally, eulogized. AP

Fifty years ago, on April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis. With his emphasis on nonviolent resistance, the country saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. On this historic anniversary, here are 50 ways to honor him.


1. Learn about his life, read his words, journey through his archives.

2. Understand the primary characteristics of nonviolent resistance.

3. Join the King Arts Complex 60 Seconds For Peace initiative to inspire reflection on the exact moment when 50 years earlier King was assassinated.

4. Share your dream with the world, just as King shared his many dreams he shared with the world.

5. Join the conversation on Twitter and choose #nonviolence365.

6. Commit to a year of peace and action with the National Civil Rights Museum. They’ll send you 50 achievable actions to help realize King’s legacy of peace.

7. Watch the most critically-acclaimed documentary on civil rights, PBS’ “Eyes on the Prize.”

8. Short on time? Watch PBS’ “Roads To Memphis,” the story of King’s assassination.

9. Listen to songs of protest and progress.

10. Enjoy a clip of King accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.


11. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. While you’re there, take a short walk to the Lincoln Memorial. There, you’ll see where King stood when he gave his 1963 “I Have a Dream Speech.”

12. Visit the newest exhibition at the National Museum of African American History & Culture, which honors King’s legacy and his struggle for economic justice.

13. Farther south? Visit the church where King helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama.

14. Travel to Atlanta and visit the birth home of Dr. King, The King Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was baptized and ordained a minister.

15. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis for special presentations and extended hours during the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.

16. Plan an entire week in Memphis with all of the events honoring King.

17. Or, plan a trip of your own with this map of Civil Rights hot spots.

18. If you can’t visit a historical site, take a virtual tour of the National Portrait Gallery to see a rare collection of King photographs.

19. Travel internationally via National Geographic to see some of the streets around the world that honor King.

20. Or, travel back through time and learn about 10 famous nonviolent protests in history.


21. Martin Luther King Jr. was best known for encouraging nonviolent resistance. Read the ways in which this strategy was practiced in the Civil Rights Movement.

22. Just how radical was King and his nonviolent strategy? One professor weighs in.

23. King’s final speech before his assassination, I've Been To The Mountaintop.

24. King sharing his dream is one of the most famous speeches in American history.

25. While imprisoned in Birmingham, he wrote a letter explaining why he protested.

26. He discussed the plight of the economically impoverished in “The Other America.”

27. And the reasons for opposing the Vietnam War.

28. Read a book to children about King or his beliefs.

29. Serious readers can check out the definitive King trilogy.

30. Or the Pulitzer Prize winning work by historian David Garrow.


31. Give of your time and volunteer.

32. Read books to the public — a local library or senior center.

33. Join in the 50 acts of service or kindness today.

34. Have a knack for writing? Lend your pen to a worthy cause.

35. Help another learn the English language.

36. Forgive.

37. Donate money or time to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

38. Interested in history? Become a docent at a museum to educate others.

39. Serve meals, tutor a student, or volunteer at the local school.

40. Donate to the King Center.


41. Find a Meetup in your city to discuss race relations and social justice.

42. Go to Facebook Live and discuss King’s legacy with others.

43. Listen to the NPR podcast 1968: How We Got Here and join in on the conversation.

44. Amplify the words of today’s messengers by sharing, posting and retweeting the works of African Americans.

45. Start a podcast club. Listen to various topics surrounding race, from police violence and racism to the racial income gap and black unemployment.

46. Invest in crowdfunding campaigns, on Kickstarter or Kiva, to help support business ventures by African Americans.

47. Register to vote, and help others to do the same.

48. Find a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement and invite them to share their story with your local school or community.

49. Join a Twitter conversation on civil rights and social justice.

50. Collect and donate books to incarcerated youth through Liberation Library.

Jevon Collins is the performing arts program director at The King Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio.