Why Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a ‘Day of Service’

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a leader of the civil rights movement, Dr. King’s vision was to create equity for people of color and the poor while remaining mindful of the commitment we should all have for one another. He brought the issues of systemic racism and poverty to the forefront of this nation while being a thought and spiritual leader to people worldwide. His vision was not just about ending systemic racism and poverty but encouraging the formation of what he called the “beloved community.” In his “Birth of a New Nation” speech in 1957, Dr. King said:

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

His notion of a Beloved Community centers on the idea that people, regardless of race, nationality, or economic status, feel accountable to one another.  The concept is not about being “in service” to each other based on shared backgrounds or similarities but based on our shared humanity.  Dr. King envisioned a society where “caring and compassion drive political policies that support the worldwide elimination of poverty and hunger and all forms of bigotry and violence.  At its core, the Beloved Community is an engine of reconciliation.”

To honor Dr. King’s vision of a Beloved Community, in 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, the first-ever federal holiday observed as a National Day of Service.  The call to action for this day encourages every American to volunteer to improve their community.  While this might seem like a big ask in this day and age, there are a multitude of ways anyone can volunteer in person or virtually! 

Below are websites to find in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities:

In honor of Dr. King, what are you doing to improve your community?  It starts with you.