Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, 2012

Photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., signing copy of his first book, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, 1963 Vanishing Georgia collection, Georgia Archives


Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday that honors the memory of the most prominent African American leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s on his birthday (this year, Dr. King would have been 83 years old). The holiday was first observed in 1986, after years of effort led by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to establish it. In 1994, Congress designated the federal holiday as a national day of service with a law co-authored by civil rights veteran and U.S. representative from Georgia John Lewis. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service, and celebrates the legacy of Dr. King by encouraging Americans to participate in community service projects that address social problems.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. King, the Civil Rights Digital Library includes primary sources and other reference resources related to his life and work. These materials come from 61 archival collections belonging to libraries, archives, museums and public broadcasters across the country; there is also instructional content available from 10 different educator resources. All of this material is available at