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.
This week we celebrate and honor the work, life, and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This national holiday isn't simply a day off but "a day on" to volunteer and give back to our communities and causes that matter to each of us.
This year, the family of Martin Luther King, Jr., has an urgent mission and message: They are calling for the restoration of voting rights throughout the U.S. and asking that people work to restore and protect those rights on Dr. King’s holiday. Several state legislatures throughout the country have introduced and passed bills that would restrict voting access.
Starting January 15, members of the King family and voting rights activists are leading a series of voting rights marches, including one in Washington D.C. on MLK Day.
As an AmeriCorps program, Teach For America’s mission is one that embodies service and community on MLK Day and throughout the year. Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve gathered a list of both virtual and in-person service ideas and resources to help you commemorate the life of the Civil Rights leader and learn more about voting rights this MLK Day.
Learn about MLK and Voting Rights
- Learning for Justice has a classroom resource guide that debunks myths, tackles gerrymandering, and offers guidance about how to talk with family about voting. The lessons are catered to different age groups. Check it out here.
- In addition to Dr. King, talk about other figures who have worked to expand voting rights, such as Ida B. Wells, John Lewis and Stacey Abrams.
- 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 MLK.
- Analyze a lesser-known speech by MLK. You can find an archive of his speeches here.
- Create something inspired by the message of MLK.
- Take a virtual tour of the National Civil Rights Museum.
- 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 in your local historical society.
- Hold a no-contact coat drive in your area via One Warm Coat.
- Search by zip code to explore virtual volunteer opportunities with the American Red Cross.
- Sponsor a card-writing session for veterans through Soldiers' Angels.
- Explore the Idealist website for volunteer tasks, COVID-19 efforts, and other locally-based volunteer opportunities.
What You Can Do Nationally
- Volunteer to transcribe historical documents through the Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program.
- Use Catchafire to access flexible, virtual volunteer opportunities that exercise your skill sets and support causes you hold dear.
- Write letters to seniors who are in self-isolation. Letters Against Isolation is a great resource that serves thousands of seniors in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and Israel in isolation due to pandemic.
- Volunteer to answer questions from students who want to be you 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.
- Transcribe historical documents for the Library of Congress 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.
This article was originally published in 2019. The publish date reflects the most recent update.