How are you marking the 2023 Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace.
A soul generated by love.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


MONDAY, JANUARY 16—Serve in your community—even if virtually, or by delivering something on the doorstep of a neighbor in need—and learn more about civil rights, as the nation collectively remembers the legendary life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. An American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday in January annually brings the celebration of a pivotal figure in American history who, during his lifetime, worked ceaselessly for the civil rights movement and nonviolent activism.


News in 2023:

Click on the book cover to read our interview with Dr. Lewis Baldwin about this new book.

READ THE SPIRIT: In our Monday January 16 issue, our Cover Story features an interview with leading King scholar Dr. Lewis Baldwin on his new book, The Arc of TruthThere’s not a more timely book in this era when the meaning of “truth” hangs in the balance. So, please don’t miss this story in of our online magazine.

PARADE MAGAZINE—which shut down its home-delivered Sunday newspaper magazine late in 2022—continues to publish timely stories online. That includes this story in Parade.com:
30 Fascinating Facts About the Civil Rights Icon. Most Americans already know some of the facts listed in Traci Rhoades’ column, but there’s a lot of intriguing information packed into her 30 nuggets about Dr. King. You’re likely to want to share some of Rhoades’ reporting with friends over the coming week.

Search Locally—

AN IMPORTANT TIP: Many of the best events are held close to home—wherever “home” is for you. Our publishing house is based in Michigan and our “local” search turned up a whole host of great events for individuals and families spread across southeast Michigan. Check out this January 2023 overview from Metro Parent online magazine.

And nationally—

The main federal website to get involved in MLK Day-related service is the National Service website; this year, the site also features a video on service during the time of COVID-19. Plus, there’s a helpful link to free lesson plans for kids, courtesy of Scholastic. For those looking to get creative with their service, CNN has an article on simple, at-home projects—such as crocheting, making homemade cards and putting together care packages—for MLK Day.

MLK Day: A History

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929. He became a Baptist pastor and helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, serving as its first president. In 1963, King helped to organize the March on Washington and, there, delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolence.

When a bill was introduced for a federal holiday in honor of Dr. King, some representatives argued that an additional paid holiday would be too expensive and that Dr. King, having never held public office, was ineligible. Supporters of the bill began rallying the public, and when Stevie Wonder released “Happy Birthday” in 1980 to raise awareness of the campaign, 6 million signatures were collected. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that established a federal holiday on November 2, 1983. The holiday was first observed in 1986, and today, Americans are urged to honor the “King Day of Service” by spending the day doing something Dr. King viewed as unparalleled: serving others.

One of Dr. King’s favorites

Feed the Spirit: Journalist, author and activist Desiree Cooper writes this FeedTheSpirit column about one of Dr. King’s favorite foods—sweet potato pie—and includes a delicious recipe.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Americans lend a hand in honor of Dr. King

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Man and dark-skinned boy digging shovels into dirt while others look on

Volunteer to serve others in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo by Rachel Feierman, Courtesy of Flickr

MONDAY, JANUARY 19: Serve the community, learn more about civil rights and remember a legendary life on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. An American federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January annually brings the celebration of the pivotal figure in American history. During his lifetime, King worked ceaselessly for the civil rights movement and nonviolent activism. Following his assassination in 1968, a campaign for a federal holiday in King’s name began circling almost immediately. Fifteen years later, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law. Today, Americans are urged to honor the “King Day of Service” by spending the day doing something Dr. King viewed as unparalleled: serving others.

AN INSPIRING RESOURCE—Daniel Buttry’s Interfaith Peacemakers project has published this inspiring story about Dr. King’s life. Readers are welcome to republish and share Buttry’s story about King with friends.

PASTOR AND ACTIVIST:
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Black-and-white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in suit with microphones, speaking outdoors

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

King was born January 15, 1929. He became a Baptist pastor and helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership conference, serving as its first president. In 1963, King helped to organize the March on Washington and, there, delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolence.

When a bill was introduced for a federal holiday in honor of Dr. King, several representatives argued that an additional paid holiday would be too expensive and that Dr. King, having never held public office, was ineligible. Supporters of the bill began rallying the public, and when Stevie Wonder released “Happy Birthday” in 1980 to raise awareness of the campaign, 6 million signatures were collected. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that established a federal holiday on November 2, 1983.

KING DAY OF SERVICE:
A NATIONWIDE CALL FOR ACTION

Federal legislation to transform Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a national day of service was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Since that year, millions of Americans have volunteered their time on the third Monday of January, in efforts to help communities across the nation.

Interested in volunteering? Find a Toolkit to plan your Day of Service, or register an event, at NationalService.gov. Also, find free lesson plans for grades K-8, or share your volunteering experiences at Serve.gov.