Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. day of service

There are many ways to get involved and celebrate this national event on January 21.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is charged by Congress to lead the effort in organizing the annual Martin Luther King Jr. national Day of Service, which is held on Monday, January 21.

Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a nation of freedom, justice for all and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence. The CNCS believes the MLK Day of Service is a way to transform King’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems. On this day, Americans celebrate King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, remove barriers and create solutions.

The CNCS website provides many useful toolkits for organizing a variety of service events. Ideas include: sending care packages to troops, creating a community garden, planting trees, organizing a school supply drive and teaching financial literacy. The website also has a search function so users can search for existing events or projects in their local community. People who serve are encouraged to list their project on the website and add photos of their event. The site also posts an active Twitter feed: @MLKDay.

To support MLK Day planning and promotion efforts, the Michigan Community Service Commission provides the following MLK Day resources: 

In addition, the CNCS provides webinars and update emails throughout the year to assist with developing projects, raising resources, marketing, recruiting volunteers and preparing for the Day of Service. Register for planning webinars and subscribe to receive the Action Update by visiting the CNCS website.

King’s “I Have a Dream” speech from August 1963 deserves to be viewed in preparation for this national holiday.  It is available on YouTube and is less than 18 minutes long. It sets a powerful vision for the future and how we can take this opportunity to re-commit ourselves to improving our community by embracing racial diversity and serving others. I hope you will join others in honoring King and participating in this national day of service. 

Michigan State University Extension offers local educational programs and workshops to help people improve their lives and their communities.  For more information about these programs and how you can become involved, visit the MSU Extension website.