Ask almost any elementary school student or older, and they are able to tell you about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his contributions to society. They can also tell you that there’s no school on Monday to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. Since 1986, the nation has recognized the third Monday in January as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Efforts to gain thisspecial day to honor Dr. King’s began soon after his assassination in 1968. It was Ronald Reagan who signed the holiday into law in 1983. On Monday, January 20, 1986, thenation observed the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In Atlanta the event was commemorated with what has become a tradition across the country, a King Day parade. This year Metro Atlanta parades as well as other events will help remember the man who had a dream.
People have become more comfortable with this day. While for some it has become an opportunity to hit the alarm clock and just roll over, but for many others it’s time to actively remember Dr. King. Because of the significant work and sacrifice Dr. King gave to the nation and the world, teaching the lesson of service on this day should always take center stage.
This year more than 3,000 Metro Atlanta volunteers have already signed up to participate in the Annual Day of Service. Hand On Atlanta, a massive group of volunteers serving more than 400 nonprofit organizations and schools every day, kicked the Day of Service program 17 years ago as a way for everyone to live the “Dream” of a better community. Hands On Atlanta is an affiliate of the Hands On Network, an association of 250 volunteer service organizations across 16 countries. The organization is partnering with the Atlanta-based King Center for Nonviolent Social Change to honor both Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. The goal is both basic and powerful: bring the community together to meet critical needs while developing daily civic engagement.
Some Day of Service activities include beautification efforts in Atlanta’s East Lake Community including Brownwood Park and volunteer efforts at some Atlanta schools. Georgia Perimeter students and faculty will work on about a dozen different volunteer projects in Decatur, Lithonia, Clarkston, Dunwoody and also in Henry and Newton counties. Click here to learn about the 2012 MLK Weekend and Beyond Volunteer Opportunities across the Metro Atlanta. Also call 404-979-2800 for more details.
Then there are the commemoration events going on all weekend leading up to Monday’s King Holiday. These events are also learning opportunities while remembering. Atlanta Journal and Constitution’s Access Atlanta Page lists a number of wonderful family events happening this weekend. And of course the community is invited to participate in the annual March & Rally on January 16th in downtown Atlanta.
So as you reflect the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. take time to teach and learn the lesson of service. Doing something as simple as leading a neighborhood cleanup project, or uplifting a group of young people through mentoring or sharing good advice, helps grow the “Dream”. Help teach today’s youth more about Dr. Martin Luther King, and do so outside of the classroom.