MLK Holiday: A day of service, a day of promise

Forty years ago, in November 1983, then President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law, securing the third Monday in January as a federal holiday to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The King family and scores of allies had sought this act since Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. After the bill was signed, the family and activists devoted 17 more years in the quest for all 50 states to recognize the federal holiday, which is designated as a day of service. 

Their persistence is both a lesson in the value of perseverance and a call to action for each of us to make Jan. 16, 2023, “a day on, not a day off.” To encourage each of us to take action: Volunteer on MLK Day to help those in need or attend an event that honors Dr. King and allows us to engage in collective action to actualize his vision for the “beloved community.”

In a “beloved community,” each of us would see ourselves as part of the whole. We would not rest until every human being can live in dignity and peace. Until equal rights and justice are guaranteed to every citizen. Until poverty and war have been vanquished because we will no longer tolerate either. Until racism and classism are rejected, and each person is viewed through a lens of love. 

The Urban League of Greater Atlanta staff and leadership will spend the King Holiday attending events – including the major MLK Day celebration at Ebenezer Baptist Church. And over the holiday weekend, our Young Professionals group will participate in a Hands On Atlanta MLK Day of Service activity on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 9 a.m. The event will engage Metro Atlanta students from Title I schools in enriching STEAM activities focused on learning and health and wellness. For more information about this and other service opportunities, visit

Wherever you are, choose what fits you and your family best. But choose, for sure. To reach our goal of a world of equal promise and well-being for everyone requires that each of us do some “thing,” no matter how big or small. 

We have seen what persistence and commitment can achieve. Let’s follow in the footsteps of those who have shown the way. 

Urban League of
Greater Atlanta

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