Showing posts with label civil rights leaders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label civil rights leaders. Show all posts

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day of Service - A Dream of Strengthening Communities

Everyone can achieve greatness through
community service work.
"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve...You only need a heart full of grace." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said those words to a congregation in Atlanta, Georgia in 1968. He was talking about serving our fellow man and our communities, regardless of our status or abilities. Everyone can achieve greatness through community service work.

The US Congress designated the Martin Luther King Junior Federal Holiday as a day of service that occurs on the third Monday of January. Through volunteerism, people can use this holiday as a day to start a new project of national & community service, or take that day off to give back to their community as part of an annual tradition.

community service work
One of the most prominent civil rights leaders,
Dr. King, Jr. taught us about strengthening
our communities through service.
There are many reasons to volunteer on MLK day. Dr. King Jr., one of the most well-known civil rights leaders, envisioned a "beloved community" where people worked together to strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers and create solutions. Our service can be part of a larger, community project, such as helping at a shelter or food bank, or it can be more personal, for example, helping an elderly neighbor with their grocery shopping, or walking their dog. It can even be providing company for someone who is confined to their home due to illness, perhaps reading to them or watching a movie together.

How can you serve on MLK Jr Day? The Corporation for National & Community Service provides a website where you can find volunteer opportunities in your area by entering your zip code on their site. You can also plan your own project using their toolkit. The projects that are listed include educating people in your community about disaster preparedness, providing tax preparation, helping veterans, environmental causes and health issues. Search for volunteer opportunities that fit into your schedule and suit your interests by visiting

If you would like to learn more facts about Martin Luther King, there are many online sources. The History channel's website has a brief biography and links for videos of Dr. King's speeches. Watch and listen to his acceptance speech at the 1964 Nobel Peace prize award ceremony. Visit The King Center online to learn more about MLK Jr.

Did You Know that....

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s real name was Michael? His father changed their first name when MLK Jr. was about five years old.
  • Was named Time magazine's man of the year in 1963?
  • Was the youngest person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, at that time, 1964?

These and other Martin Luther King Jr facts can be found on the CNN website.

Some people tell us they decide to take a more personal view of community service and to do something for friends and neighbors they know are struggling. One reader told us she downloaded FamilyWize cards and kept them in her purse to give to people behind her in the pharmacy line.  Another sent an email with a link to everyone she knew and asked them to help too.

So how will you serve this year? Please share your experience with us in the comments section. Remember, it can be in a big way or a small way, either way, your contribution is making the dream of strengthening your community a reality.

Dream Big, a mosaic of Dr. King Jr.
by artist Pete Fecteau is constructed of
Rubik's Cubes.
(Image from
The image above is made entirely of Rubik's Cubes. Called, Dream Big, Pete Fecteau spent forty hours constructing this work of art. Read the story and watch the video of his creation on his website, along with other images he has created.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer