Martin Luther King Day of Service: “A day on, not a day off”

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – MLK Day is also recognized as the national Martin Luther King Day of Service, which challenges Americans to turn the day into a day of action through volunteer services.

The official holiday day is observed on the third Monday of January every year.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, GA. He was an American Baptist minister and activist who became one of the most known leaders in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

After his assassination, the campaign for a federal holiday to be established in his honor started quite quickly.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law and was first observed three years later. At first, many states refused to recognize the holiday and was not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000.

The holiday was later also recognized as the national Martin Luther King Day of Service after being started by former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act.

This act then challenged Americans to honor the legacy of Dr. King by celebrating through volunteer services around the country. The act was signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.

Over the years, many schools, jobs and families take part in this day by volunteering in their communities to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

The day of service is recognized as “a day on, not a day off” as people volunteer to help others in need in their community.

Although this year things may look a little different due to the pandemic, many volunteer opportunities remain available in local communities.

Here are a few volunteer suggestions for you and your families to do during the pandemic:

  • Make cards/pictures for nursing home residents
  • Package care bags for homeless or families in need
  • Collect items for animal shelters
  • Volunteer/donate to food shelters
  • Park/roadway clean up
  • Make and donate masks to family shelters