I have always felt a sad connection to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a minister and leader of the civil rights movement who inspired people to act against poverty and injustice. Dr. King was shot in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, two days before I was born in Chicago, Illinois. My mom remembers that while she lay in the hospital recovering and bonding with me, she watched Chicago burning on TV as people reacted to Dr. King’s murder by rioting in the streets.

Monday, January 16th marks the day that we as a nation remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy of inspiring people to pursue justice and fairness. Since 1994, many people and organizations have marked his birthday (January 15) and the federal holiday (the third Monday in January) as a day of service to honor Dr. King.

Since there is no school today, it’s the ideal day to teach your children about Dr. King, listen to his famed “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963 with them, and to do something as a family to improve your community. Sadly, more people live in poverty today than during Dr. King’s lifetime.

Here are some of our favorite ways to volunteer with our kids:
•    Clean a park or stream (don’t forget bags and gloves)
•    Collect food at a grocery store for a local food bank
•    Visit a senior center and play games with or play music for them
•    Bake for local children’s hospitals or shelters (check with them first to see what they need and accept)

Here are some more ways kids can serve their communities.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s origins in the south and the changes he affected there, I also want to share a recipe for Sweet Whole Wheat Cornbread sent to me by Six O’Clock Scramble subscriber Katie Ellis.   It’s a modern and healthier take on the satisfying and delicious side dish that is a perfect accompaniment to chili.

How will your family mark MLK Day?

Recipe: Sweet Whole Wheat Cornbread

  • Prep Time: 15 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 30 min(s)
  • Total Time: 45 min(s)
  • Servings: 8-10

A whole wheat cornbread recipe.


    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup cornmeal
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (or use as little as 1/4 cup if you don’t want a sweet bread)
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup nonfat or low fat milk
    • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
    • butter for serving


    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cast iron skillet or an 8 x 8-inch baking pan thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour (I like the white whole wheat flour from King Arthur's Flour), cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, and canola or vegetable oil. Stir until just combined with no lumps, and transfer it to the baking dish. Bake it for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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