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About MLK Day

AmeriCorps members and volunteer gather together on MLK Day of service

Legislation signed in 1983 marked the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a federal holiday. 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. Each year, on the third Monday in January, MLK Day of Service is observed as a "day on, not a day off." MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community."


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Why serve on MLK Day?

Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence. MLK Day of Service is a way to transform his life and teachings into community action that continues to solve social problems. Service unites Americans of all ages and backgrounds, and strengthens communities.

How can I serve on MLK Day?

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." Use our search tool to find an opportunity in your community!

Learn More about MLK

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era and a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world. Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, he was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 and moved back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

During his lifetime, he was arrested 30 times for participation in civil rights activities. He preached about justice, empowerment, love and peace, and in the final months of his life, turned his attention to fighting poverty. Sadly, more Americans live in poverty today than during his lifetime. Forty-seven million Americans currently fall below the poverty line.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He was to Memphis to lead a group of sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.

 

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