MLK Day: What Are You Doing for Others?

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United We Serve

This post originally appeared on the White House blog on January 14, 2011.

This Monday, Americans across the nation will honor Dr. King and mark the 25th anniversary of the holiday that bears his name. Sixteen years ago, Congress passed legislation transforming the King holiday into a national day of service. We’ve seen it grow from a handful of local events to well over 13,000 projects taking place this year in all 50 states.

In Philadelphia, more than 70,000 volunteers will come together to beautify schools, refurbish computers, and serve meals to the homeless. In Los Angeles, more than 1,000 community and corporate volunteers will revitalize the campus of an elementary school and AmeriCorps members will help to transform a hangar at the Compton airport into a multi-person service center to help those in need.

In Atlanta, Dr. King’s hometown, the King Center and Hands On Atlanta are leading an effort to feed 10,000 hungry Georgians. Projects like these are planned across the country. They are a way to honor Dr. King’s legacy and keep his dream of “the beloved community” alive.

Undergirding everything he did and everything for which he stood was Dr. King’s belief that as a nation, we are more united and at our best when we serve others. To show how Dr. King’s legacy of service continues to inspire us today, we have produced a new video that features service leaders and civil rights luminaries including Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, and Ruby Bridges. This inspiring video shows us that Dr. King’s legacy of service endures today and that all of us have a role to play in making America stronger.

As the federal agency charged with leading the MLK Day of Service, we are using this silver anniversary of the holiday to encourage more people to serve, not just on the King holiday but all year round.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the holiday, and to continue the momentum for the MLK Day of Service throughout the year, on Monday we are launching the MLK 25 Challenge: What Are You Doing for Others? This initiative calls on Americans to honor Dr. King by pledging to take at least 25 actions during 2011 to make a difference for others and strengthen our communities.

If you haven’t yet decided where to serve on Monday, it’s not too late. Visit to find a project in your community.

Patrick A. Corvington is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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