This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 18th. On this day, we not only celebrate the life and dream of MLK, but also reflect on all the work that still needs to be done for racial equality.

What does MLK Day mean to me?

The significance of celebrating the day and honoring the legacy is that it reminds me to take the opportunity to show kindness and love through volunteering. It makes me feel a strong desire to persevere in fighting for justice and equality for all people. It makes me think of his humility and how extraordinary he was; how ordinary people can be extraordinary as well. I think it is wonderful to have a holiday that reminds me of the value of reconciliation, tolerance, and unconditional love.

What does MLK Day mean to There Goes My Hero?

Nationally, people of color are underrepresented in the bone marrow registry. People of European descent have a 75% chance of finding a match, compared with 33% of African Americans. The odds are similar for people of Asian and Latino descent. This is important because donors are more likely to find a match with someone who shares the same ethnic background.

Medical and social justice are inextricably linked. We recognize that voices of color have been historically underrepresented and disregarded. Lower rates of health coverage, racial stereotyping, and the past injustices of Henrietta Lacks and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment have shaped health care into the discriminatory system it is today.

Many diverse and ethnic individuals are reluctant to join the bone marrow registry due to feelings of apprehension towards sharing personal information and DNA samples. Many underserved people do not have access to quality healthcare, which means they do not know the bone marrow registry exists as an option for individuals with blood cancer.

For us, MLK Day is an opportunity to address this inequality and take the necessary first steps: education and advocacy.

What does TGMH have planned for MLK Day 2021?

This year, we are not able to host an in-person Day of Service given the current COVID restrictions. However, that does not mean we are not joining this year’s festivities. In honor of MLK Day, we are asking our supporters to sign up for one of our upcoming virtual informational sessions. These sessions help with educating individuals about blood cancer, bone marrow transplants, and what Hero does to make a difference.

If you are interested in attending a virtual information session or want to become a volunteer, please visit http://theregoesmyhero.org/volunteer/ or email me at charis.taylor@theregoesmyhero.org.