Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday falling on the third Monday of every January, which in 2020 will take place on January 20.   The day also celebrates King’s birthday (January 15), honors his legacy and shines a light on civil rights. The holiday was approved as a federal holiday in 1983, becoming the first federal holiday honoring an African American.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister and social rights activist in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. He was a leader of the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. He organized a number of peaceful protests as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including the famous March on Washington.  MLK was a great leader who will always be remembered, but my question is, where is the next Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Fathers, grandfathers, Godfathers, uncles, educators and ministers, take a look around and you’ll see him…he’s the young boy sitting over there…waiting for you to reach down, lift him up and help teach him how to be a great leader in his community.

In this piece, I just want to talk about our sons.  I repeat, where is the next Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?

He’s right there in plain sight, waiting for some good men to teach him how to respect themselves and others and the value of life itself. These boys need to know there’s more to life than playing basketball, listening to and repeating vulgar rap songs, having “bad” attitudes and calling young girls and women out of their names.  They need to know that there is more to life than hanging out on street corners selling and/or using drugs and making headlines by shooting and killing one another in the streets.

They need to be taught that we need bankers, business owners, lawyers, politicians, plumbers, electricians and countless other occupations. They need to be taught that they can do anything that they set their minds to do and that it takes studying hard, working hard, unwavering determination and sacrificing the “right now” for later that can lead to great rewards in the future.

We need good, responsible grown-up men who will go to our schools, churches and after school programs to mentor these impressionable young men and show them how a real man looks and behaves.

We need more men standing in the gap for the dads missing in action for whatever reasons to help guide these young men.  If you men don’t have time during the week because of work or other obligations, how about picking these young men up on your way to your barbershop on Saturday afternoon and getting them a haircut too or how about picking them up on your way to church Sunday morning and sitting next to them the entire time?  And perhaps maybe even take one or two to an early dinner with you after church when you head off to your favorite eatery?  This small amount of time can make a HUGE difference in the life of a young man who might otherwise be spiraling head-first down the wrong path.

There are many ways to teach a boy how to become a man, such as: being a good role model yourself, teaching them to plan for their futures, teach and model respect for self and others, teaching them to be trustworthy, kind, compassionate and how to be accountable and have patience and self-discipline while also teaching them that their actions will have consequences as well as rewards.

Calling all dads (and stand-in dads), the best way to teach your sons what honor looks like is to model it in your home and then hold your son to a higher standard in his behavior and treatment of others. Honorable men turn impressionable boys into honorable men.  Webster’s definition of honorable is deserving of respect or high regard. Sounds good to me.

All of this might appear to be a huge task, but it’s really not…. it’s called caring.  We all need to care more about our young boys…and show them that we care. We need to stop allowing the streets to claim our future men.

I repeat, where is the next Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Where are our next good leaders?  Take a look around men. He’s right there…just reach down and lift him up.

Written by: Nellie Bogar, Founder/CEO