January 20, 2020 is the 25th anniversary of the federal day of service celebrating the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King Day is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service, to encourage Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama beginning in 1954. He led the African-American boycott of Montgomery’s segregated bus lines in 1956, and won the operation of the bus lines on a desegregated basis. He organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to pursue civil rights activities. In the name of non-violent protest, he was arrested on numerous occasions. In 1963, 200,000 people participated in the March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.
In 1964, Dr. King became the youngest and the third black man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was 34 years old.
On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was supporting a strike by sanitation workers.
As the only federal holiday that is a day of service, MLK Day should not be considered a “day off” but a day to help others in our own communities.