Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service (MLK Day) is the only federal holiday that is also designated by Congress as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” Participation in service activities has grown each year as more Americans are encouraged to provide meaningful change in their communities. Whether service meets a tangible need, such as fixing up a school or senior center, builds a sense of community or mutual responsibility. In a pandemic environment, service can take on the form of sending a meal through a meal delivery service, serving as a virtual mentor, or donating money to a charitable cause to help those who lack basic essential items.
No matter the choice, service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community. It breaks down barriers by bringing people from different backgrounds together and it benefits those who choose to serve. Coretta Scott King said, “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”
As stewards of America's lands and natural resources, the work we do at DOI epitomizes Dr. King’s belief in the power of service, as expressed in his legendary quote, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In keeping with Dr. King’s example, let us embrace the belief that our destiny is shared and accept our obligations to each other, future generations and the American people by strengthening the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on earth. Each one of us can help answer his call by pledging to love and serve.
Learn about Dr. King's legacy