Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all. He challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play in making America what it ought to be. With his leadership, our nation made great strides against racial discrimination and toward increased civil rights.
Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing social needs today. Each of us can contribute to strengthening our own communities by serving in Dr. King’s honor on the King Holiday and throughout the year. And, by making service part of our daily lives, we can help realize King’s dream and support our nation’s renewal and recovery.
What Is the King Day of Service?
In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the King Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The King Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, addresses social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”
Why Serve on King Day?
Dr. King recognized the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. Service is integral to meeting national challenges such as poverty, economic insecurity, illiteracy, hunger, environmental degradation, and more.
In addition to helping solve serious problems, service brings people from different backgrounds together, and benefits those who serve.
What Types of Service Are Encouraged?
All types of service are encouraged, particularly projects that connect participants to ongoing service throughout the year. Projects include preparing and delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, removing graffiti and cleaning neighborhoods, reading to children, training mentors or tutors for youth, and much more. Many service projects are connected to the life and teachings of Dr. King and include time to reflect upon his life and teachings.