Today marks the day where many honor and celebrate the legacy of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Nobel Peace Prize winner lead the fight in the United States for civil rights for blacks, who faced legalized and rampant discrimination throughout the country. The activist/preacher was assassinated on April 4, 1968 because of his work with many civil rights and world leaders to end segregation here in the United States.
The bill to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday was first introduced by United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) in 1979. After a long struggle with obstinate politicians like Arizona Senator John McCain and North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.”
The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. Many choose to spend this “day on” by participating in community service activities in local communities. Find an MLK Day community service activity near you by visiting MLKDay.gov.
Find out more about MLK Day at MLKDay.gov.
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.