The fierce urgency of now: Five things you can do today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day) is Monday, Jan. 17. In 1966, Dr. King famously reminded us, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.” Today, Swedish is as committed as ever to ending inequality in health and ensuring the health and well-being of every person, in every community.

The holiday honoring Dr. King, which we celebrate each year on the third Monday in January, calls on us to carry on his work, do our part in dismantling injustice and ensure freedom and equality for every American. While this year marks the 54th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, MLK Day is an opportunity to celebrate Dr. King’s life, learn about his work and practice his example of courage and commitment.  

“Dr. King reminds us that providing service to others is a calling bigger than ourselves,"  says Mardia Shands, regional chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Swedish. "He famously said, 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?' We honor Dr. King’s legacy when we as caregivers provide human and healthcare service to the sick during these extremely challenging times especially when we ourselves are tired and weary,” 

"Dr. King reminds us that providing service to others is a calling that is bigger than ourselves. He famously said, 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?'"

Here are five things you can do today to remember Dr. King and help advance his dream of an America for all:  

1. Volunteer your time. Take the time to help those in the community. United Way of King County is offering a host of MLK Day volunteer opportunities. Please remember that proof of vaccination will be required for all in-person volunteer projects, and you’re asked to follow any additional COVID safety protocols requested by your project host.

2. Support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts throughout your community. Swedish’s Office of Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (OHEDI) is leading work to help us all think about accountability and inclusion. Take opportunities to think about things like cultural humility, implicit bias and unconscious bias and discuss them with others. Consider participating in anti-racism work and help lift up marginalized voices, including people from the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. Remember that this is long-term work. “Because this kind of work has to be ongoing. You’re always working against your biases, so you have to constantly counteract them with education,” says Mardia. “And accountability is critical; we need to steward the work and hold one another accountable.”

3. Support voting rights. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center, emphasized that for 2022 her family is focusing this holiday on securing and protecting voting rights. The King Center, which was established in 1968 by Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, will mark the day with education and advocacy around voting rights. Dr. King has encouraged all to commemorate the holiday by taking a day "on" by joining national and local efforts to protect voting rights.

4. Educate yourself. There are a variety of resources about Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Center offers a vast collection, as does The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University which recommends these readings. Be sure to watch Stanford University’s especially beautiful, animated version of Dr. King’s historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

5. Celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. There are several events on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to educate and celebrate. Visit the Washington State Historical Society's website to join a virtual event to watch Living Voices perform “The Right To Dream” in an online video, explore a digital experience detailing Dr. King’s visit to Washington 60 years ago (in 1961), and watch and participate in a pre-recorded art-making activity inspired by Dr. King’s visit with artist Valencia Carroll. You can also join United Way for a virtual talk with The New York Times bestselling author Clint Smith about advancing racial equity. A free ticket code is available if ticket price is a barrier to attendance.


Additional resources

Diversity and inclusion at Swedish

How equity and inclusion build safer medical systems, stronger communities

Swedish names inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer

Swedish's commitment to Black Lives Matter

Help Swedish reimagine patient care by becoming a patient and family advisor




Previous Article
Understanding chronic pain
Understanding chronic pain

Learn more about chronic pain, its causes, risks and advanced treatment options available at Swedish to add...

Next Article
Keep kids healthy, safe with recommended vaccines
Keep kids healthy, safe with recommended vaccines

As you prepare to begin the school year, get the facts about what vaccines are required for kids and why.