Skip directly to content

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day/ Day of Service (USA)



Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a US Federal holiday held annually on the third Monday of January, celebrates the life and work of clergyman and civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.  Dr. King is widely consdered to be "one of the greatest orators in American history" and is renowned for leading and organizing nonviolent protest against racial discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s.    Dr. King received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 in recognition for his leadership of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the 1963 March on Washington (where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech).   Assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a US holiday in 1986, and was first celebrated in all 50 states in 2000.  Read More


Reflecting on his own accomplishments, and facing his mortality, Dr. King once remarked: "If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them ... not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important... I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. Read More of Dr. Kings remarks


In honor of his wish, the MLK Day of Service was designated by Congress in 1994, transforming the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday into a national day of community service, and later established by President Barack Obama in 2009 as a part of United We Serve, a national call to service initiative.  It asks "Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems."


Last year, 6 organizations were given federal grants by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to organize over 300 projects nationwide that mobilized hundreds of thousands of volunteers to help meet local community needs. This year anyone can find out how to participate in their community using All for Good’s embeddable widget.