Martin Luther King Day is an annual federal American holiday that celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It celebrates the life and achievements of this influential American civil rights leader.
On November 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, to create a federal holiday honoring King. The bill passed the House of Representatives and was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. Initially, some states resisted observing the holiday only in the year 2000 was it officially observed in all 50 states for the first time.
Martin Luther King Day is a relatively new federal holiday and there are few long standing traditions. Its traditions are rooted in the idea of promoting equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background.
Some schools celebrate the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism. In recent years it is encouraged that Americans give some of their time on this day as volunteers in citizen action groups.
Check out some ways to show your support and volunteer opportunities below.
Nonprofits to Support
Martin Luther King Health Center
Martin Luther King Health Center provides health care services to low-income residents in targeted neighborhoods.
Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center
Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center advances youth and family civic engagement, ethical leadership, and economic and educational equity.
Culver Educational Foundation
Culver Educational Foundation’s mission is to educate its students for leadership and responsible citizenship in society by nurturing the whole individual–mind, spirit and body–through integrated programs that emphasize the cultivation of character.
United Negro College Fud Inc.
United Negro College Fund’s mission is to build a robust and notionally-recognized pipeline of under-represented students who, because of UNCF support, become highly-qualified college graduates and to ensure that their network of member institutions is a respected model of best practice in moving students to and through college.
African American Empowerment Network Inc
African American Empowerment Network hosts meetings, summits, conferences, and focus groups with residents and leaders to identify key issues and solutions. Residents and stakeholders provide input on issues, solutions, and priorities.
Volunteer Event Opportunities
Volunteer at The King Center
Where: Atlanta, GA
Who: The King Center
More info: https://thekingcenter.org/volunteer/
Clean up parks
Where: Santa Ana, CA
Who: Latino Center for Prevention & Action in Health & Welfare
More info: https://www.latinohealthaccess.org/get-involved
Calling volunteers and coaches to empower young girls
Where: Chicago, IL
Who: Girls in the Game
More info: https://www.girlsinthegame.org/careers/
Support social justice through community and ecological projects
Where: Cleveland, OH
Who: Hummingbird Project
More info: https://www.hummingbirdproject.org/volunteer
Volunteer locally for the fight to end gun violence
Where: Local opportunities
Who: Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund Inc.
More info: https://act.everytown.org/signup/get-involved-locally_ready
Spend MLK Day assisting the DC community in need
Where: Washington, DC
Who: Thrive DC
More info: https://www.thrivedc.org/volunteer/
Martin Luther King Jr Day serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy left by Martin Luther King Jr in the fight for civil rights and equality. The provided list of nonprofits and volunteer opportunities offers a tangible way for individuals to actively contribute to social justice causes, embodying the spirit of unity and service that Martin Luther King Day represents.