Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service, to encourage all Americans to volunteer to take action toward the improvement of their community. In observance of the national holiday, schools, government agencies, businesses and banks are closed each year on the third Monday in January.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor and civil rights leader who dedicated his life to achieving racial equality — a goal he said was inseparable from alleviating poverty. King helped organize peaceful rallies and boycotts to influence social change. King’s example of improving community and his insistence on nonviolence in this effort continue to influence many activists pursuing the actualization of civil rights and social change today.

In his now famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King outlined basic steps required to have a successful nonviolent campaign against injustice. Dr. King and his fellow activists conducted workshops, training people how to incorporate these steps into community action. Following these workshops, they conducted their nonviolent social protests, such as sit-ins at lunch counters, kneel-ins of African Americans at white churches, and other forms of social protest. Dr. King’s message was consistently a balance between indignation and a calling to greater love.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this work in 1964. He was murdered 4 years later on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old. He would have turned 94 on January 15th this year. One of Dr. King’s most famous quotes is that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”.

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