• Contact Us
  • Select a Location
    Close Location Selection

    Current Location:

    Let us know the location you'd like to browse.

    Select a Location


Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Community Service

January 09, 2023

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorates the life and legacy of a civil rights leader dedicated to fighting for racial justice and equality. Dr. King's birthday is celebrated on the third Monday in January as a national day of service to recognize his legacy as a civil rights advocate. The Baptist minister and social activist led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

Why a National Day of Service
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday that's also a National Day of Service meant to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The purpose of the MLK Day of Service is to strengthen our society, create solutions to social problems and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "beloved community."
It's important to remember that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn't simply a day off, but a “day on" to volunteer and give back to the communities and causes that matter to each of us.
How You Can Celebrate MLK Day with Service
You can do look for volunteer opportunities in your own community and online:
  • Volunteer in your local or nearby community. The AmeriCorps Volunteer Search provides a comprehensive database of all registered MLK Day volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • Deliver meals and donate food and clothing to those in need, including the homeless and the elderly.
  • Volunteer to transcribe historical documents through the Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program. The projects range from Black history and women's suffrage to the personal letters and journals of historical figures. The digital transcriptions are aimed to make the documents more widely available for the public.
Ways to Honor Dr. King's Legacy All Year Long
You can honor Dr. King's commitment to equality and justice throughout the year, including:
  • Join and support organizations that fight against racial injustices, such as the Equal Justice Initiative or the National Urban League. Help build awareness, raise funds and learn more about the work programs and organizations are doing to empower Black communities.
  • Support Black-owned businesses. Help contribute to entrepreneurial opportunities and economic prosperity by supporting a Black business in your area or online.
  • Mentor young children. Become a literacy volunteer to tutor children at your local library or at an after school program.
History of the MLK Holiday
On April 8, 1968, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), first proposed the bill to have Dr. King's birthday declared a federal holiday but garnered little congressional support. Finally in 1983, after significant efforts by Dr. King's widow, Coretta Scott King, the Congressional Black Caucus and iconic singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, the bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
The federal holiday was first celebrated in 1986; by 2000, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was recognized in all 50 states.
More Ways to Learn About Black History and Culture


Did you know?

Music legend Stevie Wonder wrote, recorded and produced the 1980 song, "Happy Birthday," as part of the successful campaign to have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday declared a federal holiday.



Related Articles