Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrated on the third Monday in January, was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in January of 1983.
The call for a national holiday came about shortly after Dr. King’s death in 1968, and the bill had to be introduced every year for 15 years until it was finally passed. (Interestingly, there is still resistance to MLK Day in a few southern states that insist on combining confederate commemorations with the holiday.)
MLK Day was re-dedicated as a Day of Service in 1994, and people have been taking the opportunity to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy of civil rights leadership by volunteering within their communities ever since. There are many ways that lawyers can give back by on MLK Day—here are a few ideas:
- Volunteer at a free legal aid clinic.
- Check out the Bar Association website for your state. They may regularly list service opportunities, and some may include activities specifically for MLK Day.
- If you would like to step away from the law for your service to the community, try serving meals at your local shelter. Local service organizations and places of worship will also present plenty of volunteer opportunities.
- Short on time? Community organizations and charities always appreciate monetary donations.
- Make it personal: A home-cooked meal, friendly conversation, and a bag of groceries for an elderly or housebound neighbor in need can make a big difference. What ways can you think of to be of service in a personal way?
In the end, what specific ways you choose to volunteer are less important than the effort you make to better your community.
Make a plan for your MLK Day service project and encourage others to join you.