Monday, January 18, 2016

Thoughts on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from Toni Atkins

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15 and we honor his birthday and his legacy with a holiday on the third Monday in January. Civil rights leader, minister, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King and his courageous leadership forever changed the face of America, not just for African Americans, but for disenfranchised people everywhere.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King once said that life’s most persistent and nagging question is “What are you doing for others?” He said that on the day he died “I’d like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others.” Tragically and ironically, on the day he was assassinated he was in Memphis, Tennessee, to support the efforts of trash collectors to obtain decent pay and working conditions.

The value of serving others, especially those less fortunate, has become an essential part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, which now has as its slogan – “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” It is a day not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but it is also a day for serving. All across America, we honor Dr. King by spending our day as volunteers – feeding the hungry, rehabilitating housing, tutoring those who cannot read, mentoring at-risk youth, comforting the sick, and performing thousands of other tasks to help build the community of Dr. King’s dream.

This year, the King holiday is observed on Monday, January 18. I hope you will look for an opportunity for community service that day. If you have the day off, you might plan a family volunteer day with your children to help them learn about Dr. King’s philosophy of service. For ideas for volunteer projects, check with your local place of worship, school, or recreation center. Most not-for-profit organizations rely heavily on volunteers, so ask you favorite charity what you can do to help. Even the City of San Diego uses volunteers to help deliver its programs. is an online resource for finding volunteer opportunities.

Wherever you choose to spend the day, take pride in the fact that you are helping to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.

Warm Regards,

Toni Atkins

Ms. Atkins is the Speaker of the California State Assembly and a member representing the 78th district (which includes Clairemont). 

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