Reflection Ideas

You can help your participants have a more meaningful service experience and help them better understand Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, the purpose of the MLK Day of Service, and moving from a day of service to continuing service year round by leading a "reflection" activity at the end of the service project. Through reflection, participants can be challenged to identify their values, compare their assumptions to real world experience, and make connections between their actions and Dr. King's mission. We encourage you to either follow this guide or to use your own creativity to develop activities that meet the needs of your group. The following are a number of suggested activities. You may want to use one of more of them with the service participants as appropriate.

  1. Read the following Dr. King quotes aloud and ask participants to share their reactions:

    • "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve."
    • "Make a career of humanity - and you will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."
    • "A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth."
    • "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others."
  2. Discuss the Pledge of Nonviolence and Building the Beloved Community. Ask them how they will continue their efforts this year?
  3. Nearly 20% of the children in America grow up in families that live below the poverty line, with black and Latino children the most affected. Have we made progress on this issue since Dr. King's death? Is this a race issue? Is this a class issue? How does this relate to King's vision of nonviolence?
  4. Ask participants to write or illustrate their responses to some or all of the following questions. Invite a few volunteers to share their responses to each question.

    • What motivated you to volunteer in the MLK Day of Service?
    • What did you like best about your day today? Why?
    • How does the MLK Day of Service relate to Dr. King and his teachings?
    • What would our society be like if Dr. King had never lived?
    • If Dr. King were alive today, what issues would concern him? What might he do to address these issues?
    • What are some ways you can continue to honor Dr. King throughout the year?
  5. Challenge participants to make a pledge for future service, for example, "I pledge to volunteer 2 hours a week to help others and build the Beloved Community." Encourage participants to make pledges that they can keep! Distribute "pledge cards" and ask everyone to share their pledge for future service with the group. Consider making a "group pledge" for future projects.
  6. Read a children's book about Martin Luther King (see Resources section). With participants, make a list of principles King embodied and discuss them (for example, non-violence, justice, peace, respect, service, and moral courage).
  7. Involve participants in a skit demonstrating how Dr. King's principles apply to everyday situations.
  8. Create a mock newscast or actual newsletter in which participants report on what took place at their project.
  9. Thank participants for coming and share information about any future opportunities to serve at that site.

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