5 ways you can honor and support the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Shining a light on black activists (and how you can help!)
By Jasmine Banks  Published on 01/15/2018 at 11:33 AM EDT
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King in 1964 Herman Hiller/New York World-Telegram & Sun/Wikimedia Commons

The work that Martin Luther King Jr. risked and eventually gave his life for is often parsed down into a few inspirational quotes that disregard the totality of his astonishing work. So how can we honor the legacy of Dr. King while holding the true intentions of what the Civil Rights Movement meant?

Get radical! Here are a few ways that you can honor Dr. King—today and everyday!—by supporting radical Movement for Black Lives organizers and organizations.

1. Focus on Black life, instead of Black death

Oftentimes we wait until there is violence in the news cycle, with a Black person as the victim, before we feel moved to respond.  All work that honors Dr. King’s legacy should be rooted in funding and facilitating the thriving and care of Black folks. Black women are disproportionally impacted by prenatal complication and maternal death.  Check out organizations that focus on helping Black mothers do more than survive, but thrive. The Mission of Healing Hands Community Doula Project does just that. These midwives and doulas seek to eliminate the harmful birth outcome disparities that Black women face. Focus on protecting Black life and donate today.

2. Fund Black transgender women and their work

Black trans women are the most targeted and at-risk population in all spaces. Black trans women face the highest rates of violence, homelessness, lack of access to healthcare, and joblessness (just to name a few). Prioritizing funding Black trans women and their wellbeing is of the utmost importance if we are honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute is an organization lead by Black trans women to develop crucial skills for Black trans women and gender non-conforming femmes. Fund The Marsha P. Johnson Institute.

3. Resist the Nonprofit Industrial Complex

Progressive movements love a good fundraiser for nonprofits. But much of the funding that nonprofits receive never actually makes it to the communities that need it most.

Safety Pin Box is a for profit organization designed to provide effective and measurable tasks for whites seeking to confront white supremacy. SPB uses the revenue from subscriptions and donations to fund a direct giving program called “Black Women Being”. Reparations given by Safety Pin Box subscribers and supporters keep this fund alive. Each month Safety Pin Box chooses applicants from a list of Black women and femme organizers to provide a ‘no strings attached’ monetary gift. Their philosophy is that Black women and femmes know what they need and should receive direct funding. Donate here or become a monthly subscriber.

4. Invest in Black young people

BYP100 is a dynamic organization that focuses on Black youth activists. According to BYP100, they “…mobilize through building a network focused on transformative leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy, and education. Our membership core believes in the principles of decision-making, radical inclusivity, and is building a Black politic through a Black, queer, feminist lens.”

BYP100 builds spaces for Black youth to thrive, grow, and shine — something sorely lacking in our society. This kind of revolutionary work builds on what Martin Luther King Jr. started. Fund their work today.

5. Raise racial justice advocates

We have an obligation to raise a generation of young people who do better than the generation before them. With so many factors working against us, how do we do that? Academic and racial justice advocate, Danielle Slaughter, developed a curriculum to teach young people of all races about how to be an advocate for justice. Raising an Advocate provides peer support, direct coaching, and educational curriculum that most certainly aligns with Dr. King’s message about building a better future where children of all colors and walk hand in hand. Learn more about Raising an Advocate resources here.

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