In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., January 21st is a significant day for U.S. Americans. This is due to its struggle toward civil rights and vision of a country free from discrimination and oppression. Dr. King’s courageous stance against systemic racism made him one of the most well-known leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. Many pay tribute to his legacy of peace and commitment to a nonviolent community annually through service.
Signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Day was first recognized as a federal holiday in 1986. In 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Day as a national day of service, noting it was a “day on, not a day off.” In 2009, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched United We Serve. This initiative reaffirms the call to service to “create a sustained, collaborative, and focused effort to meet community needs.” Reminding citizens that “injustice remains in many corners of our country” and that “it is our mission to fulfill King’s vision of a Nation devoted to rejecting bigotry in all its forms,” the holiday inspired numerous projects nationwide. This National Day of Service has inspired numerous projects, as citizens volunteer at soup kitchens, Veterans Affairs offices, and local schools.
- Science Mentorship: President Obama prioritized math and science education for our nation’s students. Mentorship provides future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers with guidance and inspiration, which is especially crucial for low-income students. If you are called to be a STEM mentor, learn more here.
- Go Green: With tree cover declining in urban areas and air pollution on the rise, planting trees is a simple act that promotes environmental wellness and community health. Gather some friends and find a site to plant your tree. Be sure to follow these Utah State University guidelines.
- Feed Those in Need: Feeding America has numerous initiatives devoted to ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry. Find a volunteer opportunity near you, and spend the day preparing meals, organizing supplies, or collecting goods.
- Offer Financial Literacy: Most of us can improve the skills we may or may not learn such as the in’s and out’s of budgeting, credit, and savings in high school. Many of us never learn effective tools for financial literacy. Teaching money management helps community members avoid pitfalls and possible poverty. For more information, read these guidelines from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Sharon Schweitzer wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.