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Celebrating MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service is observed as "a day on, not a day off" to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — January 20, 2020 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, which celebrates the Civil Rights leader's life and legacy. The federal holiday is observed each year on the third Monday in January as "a day on, not a day off" to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. 

The Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that leads service, volunteering, and grant-making efforts in the U.S., has been charged to lead the MLK Day of Service effort for the last quarter century.  The mission of CNCS is "to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering."

Through the MLK Day of Service, hundreds of thousands of Americans are inspired to come together and serve their community.  Volunteers across the nation will be delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, and collecting food and clothing. Volunteers will also be recruiting mentors, supporting job-seekers, building homes and providing other services for veterans and military families, and helping citizens improve their financial literacy skills. State and local leaders, including congressional members, governors, and mayors, are also tasked with honoring Dr. King's legacy through service projects while addressing pressing community needs.

Turning to the Triad, North Carolina A&T State University is partnering with Habitat For Humanity of Greater Greensboro to celebrate MLK Day of Service on Monday. Students and staff members will come together to demolish and rebuild a new ramp at the Center Christian Church on Holts Chapel Road in East Greensboro. The students and faculty members will be working under the guidance of the university's Center for Academic Excellence at the 90-year-old church. Habitat Greensboro's weekday construction crew will also supervise and participate in the work with assistance from community volunteers and AmeriCorps members.

There are several other activities and community service events scheduled for MLK Day of Service, particularity in the Triad-region. CNCS provides the following information about MLK Day of Service and how to get involved in service opportunities:

Why Serve on MLK Day?

  • Dr. King recognized the power of service. He famously said, "Everyone can be great because everybody can serve." Observing the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday through service is a way to begin each year with a commitment to making your community a better place. Your service honors Dr. King's life and teachings and helps meet community challenges. Service also brings people together of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. The MLK Day of Service encourages all types of service, particularly projects that have a lasting impact and connect participants to ongoing service. The most successful projects connect to the life and teaching of Dr. King, meet a pressing community need, and include time to reflect on his teachings.

How can I serve on MLK Day?

  • In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." Use the CNCS search tool to find an opportunity in your community! Or, use the MLK Day of Service to find an organization you care about and pledge to serve all year-long.

How Can I Continue to Serve After MLK Day?

  • Start by connecting your MLK Day activities to the service you want to do during the year. That may mean that you attend a volunteer training on King Day to prepare to serve as a regular volunteer. Or it may mean that you volunteer with a new organization you want to learn more about. Where and how you serve is up to you – the important thing is to get involved.

About Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • 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. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968.