Today I received an email that stopped me in my tracks.

With today being Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Day, I have received many messages about what others are doing to commemorate the day. However, there was one from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a sponsor of our Faith & Waters Restoration Summit, that really made me reflect on what this day means.

During one of their recent prayer circles, the members at Holy Trinity passed around the image of the Sankofa Bird. Sankofa is a West African image of a bird looking back while holding an egg in its beak. This is an important symbol in African culture, representing a deep appreciation and respect for one’s history and ancestors. The Sankofa bird serves as a reminder to look both back and forward, embracing the past while looking ahead to the future. This provides us with a deeper insight into our country's history with the opportunity to examine our own indifferences.

The Sankofa Bird's symbolism, urging us to "reach back to move forward," is a powerful and poignant connection to MLK Day, as it encourages reflection on the past and a commitment to positive change in the future. Today is not just a day of remembrance but also a call to action, promoting unity, justice, and equality.

This message prompts us to delve into our collective history, not just to honor the struggles and triumphs of the past, but to draw inspiration for positive change in the future. Dr. King's legacy, rooted in faith, speeches, and unwavering commitment to nonviolent resistance, serves as a timeless beacon guiding our journey towards a more just and inclusive society.

In the spirit of unity and interconnectedness, Dr. King's influence extends beyond the civil rights movement. His advocacy for climate justice highlights the intrinsic link between social and environmental issues. A champion for climate justice, he worked to bring communities together and activate individuals through inclusive climate action. One of Dr. King's last acts was fighting for environmental justice. After the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to join black sanitation workers in protesting polluted and hazardous work conditions. Environmental justice was a growing topic of concern as people of color suffered extensively from an overburden of toxic substances in their communities. His work here highlighted the fact that we are mutually tied together and that all life is interrelated.

Dr. King laid the groundwork to pass the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972, both having a direct effect on black communities which are unfortunately marginalized and impacted heavily by climate change. This evening IPC is hosting a special edition Learning Lab to where we will reflect on how environmental pollution disproportionately affects communities of color compared to white counterparts. We will hear from folks that are going beyond talk in environmental justice and what others can do to help fight the good fight. Click HERE to register and see a full line up of our distinguished guest speakers.

Out of all of the invitations to ways that you can commemorate this day, we hope you will share it with us.
Natalie Johnson


Director of Development and Communications