Today marks the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday honoring the late civil rights leader.
In cities across the nation, organizations are using the holiday to tackle area problems, making MLK Day “a day on, not a day off” by serving others.
“Half a century ago, America was moved by a young preacher who called a generation to action and forever changed the course of history. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to the struggle for justice and equality, sowing seeds of hope for a day when all people might claim ‘the riches of freedom and the security of justice,’ Obama said in his annual MLK Day proclamation. “On Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the holiday recognizing one of America’s greatest visionary leaders, and we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service leads the annual MLK Day of Service, working with the King Center in Atlanta and thousands of nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, and schools and businesses nationwide. Projects are taking place in all fifty states and include delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, signing up mentors, reading to children, promoting nonviolence, and more.
Many organizations are using MLK Day as the springboard for service throughout the year.
In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging the King Federal Holiday be a national day of service, and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, with leading the annual national effort. Participation has grown every year since.
“Dr. King guided us toward a mountaintop on which all Americans – regardless of skin color – could live together in mutual respect and brotherhood. His bold leadership and prophetic eloquence united people of all backgrounds in a noble quest for freedom and basic civil rights,” the President said in the proclamation. “Inspired by Dr. King’s legacy, brave souls have marched fearlessly, organized relentlessly, and devoted their lives to the unending task of perfecting our Union. Their courage and dedication have carried us even closer to the promised land Dr. King envisioned, but we must recognize their achievements as milestones on the long path to true equal opportunity and equal rights.”