19 Resources and Ideas to Celebrate the MLK Day of Service
Here are some ways you can serve–virtually or in person–on MLK Day.
As we prepare to honor the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to remember the third Monday in January isn't simply a day off. It's the perfect day to start volunteering in your community and champion causes that matter to each of you. In fact, it is the only federal holiday that calls for a day of service.
This year’s theme for January 15, as announced by The King Center, is “‘Shifting the Cultural Climate through the Study and Practice of Kingian Nonviolence.”
The Kingian Nonviolence entails a love-centered way of thinking, speaking, acting, and engaging that leads to personal, cultural and societal transformation. Through Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence (info gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, direct action, reconciliation), the Beloved Community hopes to provide a sustainable solution to injustice and violence in our world while empowering others to pursue social and interpersonal change.
As an AmeriCorps program, Teach For America’s mission is one that embodies service and community on MLK Day and throughout the year. To help you commemorate the life of the civil rights leader and work toward the goal of creating the Beloved Community, check out these resources and ideas.
Learn about King and the Civil Rights Movement
- Educators are invited to the 2024 Beloved Community Teach-In online on Jan. 12 to learn about King and his wife, Coretta Scott King’s, legacy and how to champion the completion of their unfinished work. Register to receive lesson plans with objectives, activities, and an assessment.
- Attend one of the many events hosted by The King Center.
- In addition to King, learn about other figures who have worked to expand voting rights, such as Ida B. Wells, John Lewis and Fannie Lou Hamer.
- Talk with someone in your community who was alive during the Civil Rights era and have them provide a first-hand account of their experiences.
- Stock your bookshelves with books about King.
- Analyze a lesser-known speech, sermon, or letter by and about King. Search the Online King Records Access Database archive.
- Experience King's dynamic and powerful presence as an orator. Watch his speeches.
- Explore the Idealist website for volunteer tasks, and other locally-based volunteer opportunities.
- Search MLKDay.gov. Spearheaded by AmeriCorps, the site allows you to search MLK Day virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities in your community and explore numerous other resources.
- Find ways to support the National Civil Rights Museum or get involved with your local historical society.
- Grab a few friends and join a local chapter of one of these civil rights organizations.
- Visit, donate to, or volunteer at a civil rights museum near you.
- Champion everyone's civil rights by becoming an election worker or helping people register to vote.
What You Can Do Nationally
- Use Catchafire to access flexible, virtual volunteer opportunities that exercise your skill sets and support causes you hold dear.
- Volunteer to transcribe historical documents through the Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program.
- The Library of Congress also has a transcription program with By the People. Founded in 2018, By the People is a volunteer initiative to improve search, readability, and access to handwritten and typed documents for everyone, including people who are not fully sighted.
- Help seniors feel less lonely. Letters Against Isolation serves thousands of seniors in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and Israel.
- Volunteer to answer questions from students who want to work in your field when they grow up. CareerVillage.org's mission is to democratize career readiness by giving professionals a platform to give career information and advice to underrepresented youth.
- Sign up to be a virtual tutor with UPchieve. The free, online platform connects low-income students in the U.S. with live, volunteer coaches.
This article was originally published in 2019. The publish date reflects the most recent update.