Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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"Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?"

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Observed each year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only U.S. federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Here are just a few ideas to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King:

  • Contact a local non-profit and inquire about any upcoming outdoor clean-up day events.
  • Drop off non-perishable donations to a local food bank in your area.
  • Take up a collection of new and unopened hygiene items for a local homeless shelter.
  • Learn about opportunities in your community, and visit your local city official websites to get involved.

Beloved Streets of America, whose mission is to "bring back pride and prosperity to the streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." The non-profit organization is implementing a comprehensive plan to reverse the urban decline and decay of the communities surrounding the streets named after Dr. King and provide a positive environment for growth. "In a 10 years nationwide study of MLK streets, the majority of these streets were found in impoverished cities, located in distressed neighborhoods, considered areas were blacks predominately live, they are considered unsafe, crime ridden places were whites and non-blacks seldom travel. These streets typically experience a lack of sustainable community economic development or cultural revitalization activities. There are so many places that once so proudly adopted his name that have been long neglected to become some of the most distressed neighborhoods"

Martin Luther King Education Resources

"We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education."

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Read: The Purpose of Education, written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was originally published in the Morehouse campus newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, in January and February 1947 Dr. King argues that education has a utilitarian and moral function, insisting that character and moral development are necessary to give the critical intellect humane purposes.

Reflect:"I have a Dream" is one of the defining speeches of the 20th century. After reading Dr. King's dream for our world, reflect on your dreams and aspirations for future generations.

Share: Orange, written by Derrick Slack is a children's book about diversity, inclusion, the power of words, identity, positive self-esteem, and getting help when times are difficult. As the author reads Orange (listen here), we learn that everyone has a special place.

Additional Martin Luther King Education Resources

Partial digital archive of Dr. King's Documents

The World House Podcast

Resources on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute

The National Civil Rights Museum presents a virtual commemoration in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy



  • From Privilege to Progress (P2P): a national movement started by Michelle Saahene and Melissa DePino to desegregate the public conversation about race and racism after their viral video of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson’s unjust arrest at a Philly Starbucks captured international attention. Through the #ShowUp movement they capture the conversation started that day with a commitment to learning together as a community, speaking up in our everyday lives, and amplifying the voices of people of color.


  • One Night in Miami...: A fictional account of one incredible night where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s. Directed by Regina King
  • They've Gotta Have Us: Powered by candid recollections from esteemed African-American entertainers, this docuseries traces the history of Black cinema.
  • Sylvie’s Love: When a young woman meets an aspiring saxophonist in her father's record shop in 1950s Harlem, their love ignites a sweeping romance that transcends changing times, geography, and professional success.
  • The Black Power Mixtape: For three decades, the film canisters sat undisturbed in a cellar beneath the Swedish National Broadcasting Company. Inside was roll after roll of startlingly fresh and candid 16mm footage shot in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, all of it focused on the anti-war and Black Power movements. When filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson discovered the footage, he decided he had a responsibility to shepherd this glimpse of history into the world.
  • MLK/FBI: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered today as an American hero: a bridge-builder, a shrewd political tactician, and a moral leader. Yet throughout his history-altering political career, he was often treated by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies like an enemy of the state. In this virtuosic documentary, award-winning editor and director Sam Pollard lays out a detailed account of the FBI surveillance that dogged King’s activism throughout the ’50s and ’60s, fueled by the racist and red-baiting paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover. In crafting a rich archival tapestry, featuring some revelatory restored footage of King, Pollard urges us to remember that true American progress is always hard-won.



  • The first African American female artist of international renown, Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907) was born to parents of Afro-Haitian and Native American descent in New York and attended Oberlin College, the first co-ed college to accept Black women.
  • Born to a Black bishop father and a mother who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad, Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was the only Black student at the Philadelphia Academy of Art under the tutelage of realist Thomas Eakins, one of his greatest mentors. He faced painful discrimination as Black southerners moved into northern cities like Philadelphia during the Great Migration, and moved to Paris in 1891, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
  • As a Black female artist and member of the Washington Color School, Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978) charted her own path in abstract expressionism, instead of the figurative artwork of many of her contemporaries. Her mosaic-like works combine brilliant colors fractured into smaller, geometric shapes. At age 80, she was the first Black woman to have a solo exhibit at the Whitney in 1972 ,and today her spectacular kaleidoscopic works hang in the White House and the Met.
  • Jennifer Packer creates portraits, interior scenes, and still lifes that suggest a casual intimacy. Packer views her works as the result of an authentic encounter and exchange. The models for her portraits—commonly friends or family members—are relaxed and seemingly unaware of the artist’s or viewer’s gaze.


  • Meet Mariya Russell, an American chef and restaurateur. She became the first Black woman to be awarded a Michelin star in September 2019 while working as a chef at Kumiko and Kikkō. Her work contributed to Kumiko winning the Best New Restaurant award from Food & Wine magazine in 2019.
  • Louis-Philippe Vigilant is head chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant Loisea des Ducs in Dijon, France.
  • Check out the Black-Owned Michelin Guide Restaurants in the US.
  • For comprehensive lists of organizations working to fight racial injustice and food inequality, see Civil Eats and Hunter College's Food Policy Center.



  • Children’s Book: Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream. Michael Jordan’s mother and sister team up for this heartwarming and inspirational picture book about faith and hope and how any family working together can help a child make his or her dreams come true. Purchase a copy by following this link
  • Children’s Book: M Is For Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child. This book by author Tiffany Rose teaches children their ABCs while encouraging them to love the skin that they're in.Each letter of the alphabet contains affirming, Black-positive messages, from A is for Afro, to F is for Fresh, to W is for Worthy. Purchase a copy by following this link.


  • Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term Intersectionality to help explain the oppression of African-American women. Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. We can all be differently impacted by our own experiences with intersectionality. If you haven’t already, consider viewing the video here and explore more about Intersectionality and Kimberlé’s work by watching this TEDWomen Talk.
  • Podcast: Seven Days of 1961: The civil rights movement was nothing if not a violent struggle. People who fought for racial justice in 1961 take us back in history to the moments when they risked everything on the “Seven Days of 1961” podcast.
  • Spark: Spark is a Career Exploration and Self-Discovery program that connects students to mentor companies invested in making a difference in their communities. Together, students and their mentors explore different career opportunities, build key skills, and access a window of possibility that was not otherwise available. Learn more:
  • Luna Malbroux is a comedian, writer, musician & playwright who also happens to be a national leading equity, inclusion, diversity and anti-racist educator and consultant.