Martin Luther King Jr.’s January 15 birthday is celebrated as a national holiday on the third Monday of each new year. To honor the civil rights leader’s legacy, the holiday has become a day of service for communities across the nation, including at Oracle. Indeed employees have found many ways to live Dr. King’s values and reflect on his monumental contributions to American history.
MLK Day 2023 is no different. Here are five ways Oracle employees share their experience with Dr. King’s life, and how they honor his legacy:
The Alliance of Black Leaders for Excellence (ABLE) at Oracle holds numerous activities for employees to volunteer across the United States, such as cleaning classrooms and assembling care packages for the unsheltered.
Tasha Parker, senior account manager, CX, loves Dr. King’s notion that we work and live for something much bigger than ourselves. She is fond of a quote from Dr. King: “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
“It is easy to get so caught up in the throes of everyday life and forget our responsibility pertains to the fight for justice and equality,” says Parker. “With MLK volunteer events, such as the donation drive for the unsheltered and campus cleanup, Oracle ABLE has created space for us to carry out that very mission.”
Dr. King’s life is well documented in museums, such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where Oracle has made a five-year commitment to supporting the institution as a member of the museum’s Milestone Donor group. Learning about Dr. King this way has inspired Oracle employees, such as Edwin Montouté, senior technical program manager, to help others as the iconic civil rights leader once did.
“I did a number of research papers on Dr. King in high school, but it wasn’t until college when I started attending seminars and exhibits about his life that I really grasped how I could incorporate more of his teachings into my everyday life,” says Montouté.
He says it was during such a visit that he learned one quote from Dr. King that he always shares and lives by: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” That is why Montouté encourages others to take the holiday as an opportunity to learn about Dr. King’s life.
Books, films, and even podcasts can be an educational resource for others to discover new knowledge and perspectives about Dr. King’s legacy. Samuel Harrell, senior director of global industry strategy, recommends a podcast titled “Teaching the Movement’s Most Iconic Figure—with Charles McKinney” as a way to learn about a different side of Dr. King’s life as a civil rights activist.
“The podcast does a great job of dismantling the iconic persona of Dr. King and focuses on him as a man—not just some lofty figure but a real person with dreams and aspirations that mirror most people’s,” says Harrell. “It allows us to step back and understand how personal the struggle for equality can be for normal people, including MLK.”
Dr. King once said: “At the heart of all that civilization has meant and developed is ‘community’—the mutually cooperative and voluntary venture of a man to assume a semblance of responsibility for his brother.”
In this spirit of community, Oracle employees recommend searching for special events within one’s own neighborhood or city to commemorate MLK Day. “I would suggest finding out what activities are going on in your community to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” says Desiree Terrell, senior principal technical support engineer.
And for years, Terrell has followed her own advice. One year she participated in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All People’s Breakfast, a program that covered many aspects of Dr. King’s life. She has moderated roundtable discussions on Dr. King’s works and legacy. She joined others of all ages and races in a march through downtown Colorado Springs, CO, just as Dr. King did on August 28, 1963 in Washington when he demanded civil rights protections for all people.
During his life, Dr. King promoted education as a means to think critically and achieve one’s goals. To that end, ABLE Kansas City will host an opportunity for Oracle employees to support the next generation with educational resources they can use to further their academic journeys. “To observe MLK Day in Kansas City, we are looking forward to volunteering at the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center to clean classrooms and organize books,” says Anika Abiade, senior federal project manager. “The Learning Center seeks to improve academic performance of under-served communities. In alignment with highlighting education this MLK Day, here is a piece called ‘The Purpose of Education’ Dr. King wrote for the Morehouse Campus newspaper, The Maroon Tiger in 1947.”
Alex Chan is a writer for Oracle. She was previously a reporter for The Orange County Register and subsidiaries of the Los Angeles Times.