Monday, January 19, 2009

Drinking Coffee (and Cocoa) in Honor of MLK, Jr.





For two cold, snowy days in mid-January, groups of friends gathered together to drink coffee (and cocoa) in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Moms, dads, grandparents, friends, and kids got together to raise a cup in honor of a man, who enjoyed comfort, community, and coffee as much as any of us.

We honored him by energizing ourselves with coffee (and cocoa).

The history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), which was established in 1983 and then implemented in 1986, reflects a long struggle for recognition. In fact, it wasn't observed in all 50 states until 2000. In 2007, only 33% of employers gave the day off.

With President-Elect Obama coming into office on Tuesday, January 20th, the 2009 take on the holiday is certainly different---and in many ways the same. Some people will be home from work. Many people will need to or choose to work. In our community, all schools will be closed, but that's not the case everywhere. We are fortunate to live in a well-educated and super-tolerant community in which much of the day will be focused on recognizing and celebrating MLK's life and legacy...But honoring MLK and choosing to work or study are not incongruous. In fact, in addition to other things, I will spend part of my day writing. And before that I will drink coffee.

I will work happily, because my ability to do the work I love so much is largely a byproduct of Dr. King's efforts and those who worked alongside him, and have continued to work. The way to honor MLK on a personal level is by understanding the quiet power of intention. If there is work that needs to be done, then there is joy in doing it. Results follow from intentions.

I have read that MLK drank coffee. He drank it in the mornings, he drank it while writing his famous speeches and he happily drank it when he came home exhausted, and at times ravaged, and his wife put a warm steaming cup into his hands.

Our lives are infinitely different and better because Martin Luther King, Jr. lived. Honor him today by drinking coffee and remembering his work and the joy he took in his life---intellectually, spiritually, and as a man who loved a good cup of coffee.

Notes: Special thank you to photographers--Lisa (Watchung mom); Stephanie Drenka; and Nick Bosco.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Sorry, I have to go because I am about to make my coffee ;-)

Alan Berkowitz said...

Yes, I think Dr. King would have been very happy to see such a great mix of people all gathering and drinking coffee in his honor. There is so much negativity in the news/world these days. Our meeting reminded me of two important things that help me carry on in the face what sometimes feels like insurmountable challenges.

First, the world has made some incredibly positive changes within my lifetime. We now have our first black president and (I believe) we have made tremendous progress in terms of tolerance. When I married got married to an African woman 11 years ago I had no idea what I was in for and I felt like I was taking a risk feel ….at that time I could not have imagined a place like Montclair where I, and the rest of my family, would feel completely at home. Obama’s election (I really did not think it was possible) makes me feel secure that such tolerance exists across much of the USA. My childhood memories on such matters are very different…reflecting…I am amazed by the pace of this change.

Second, even if things get much worse, we still have our daily comforts to help us face the day. High on my list is my daily cup of coffee…which is actually now two cups of coffee. I really love it…it warms me up and helps make me feel awake and alert - - plus its tastes pretty damn good. Another vital comfort is the regular contact with friends and neighbors….people who you can count on for good company and support.

nicole said...

Yes, Alan, I agree. We live in a remarkable community---and a place where coffee-drinking is a celebrated activity that we engage in frequently and are apt to reflect on from time to time. Very interesting perspective...