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How to Celebrate MLK Day at Work

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, find ways to honor the prolific Civil Rights leader through educational team building or an official day of service. Read on for more ideas below!

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3D cartoon-model Martin Luther King, Jr. surrounded by colorful confetti on a dark background
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This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, find ways to honor the prolific Civil Rights leader through educational team building or an official day of service. Read on for more ideas below!

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honor the Civil Rights leader through education, team building, or a day of service. Read on for more ideas below!


What is Martin Luther King Day? πŸ’­

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the primary spokesperson for nonviolent activism and racial justice in the Civil Rights Movement, protesting racial discrimination in state and federal law. After his assassination in 1968, there was a major push for a federal holiday designated to commemorate King's legacy.

The holiday was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 but wasn't observed until 1986. The bill also formed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission to oversee the observance of the holiday. Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, was honored with a lifetime appointment to this committee in 1989. Although federal recognition occurred in the late 1980s, it wasn't until the year 2000 thatΒ  Martin Luther King (MLK) Day was observed in all 50 states.

Many schools and businesses are closed to observe this national holiday, motivating students and employees to:

  • Commemorate Dr. King's life with a Day of Service. Instead of just taking another holiday from work and school, as encouraged by federal legislation in the King Holiday and Service Act, AmeriCorps mobilizes organizations to coordinate volunteer opportunities on MLK Day. πŸ«‚

In the days surrounding the observed holiday, schools and businesses center Dr. King's message, seminars, and Civil Rights History through lessons and events. πŸ’¬


When is Martin Luther King Day celebrated? πŸ—“

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. To celebrate his birthday, we annually celebrate MLK Day on the third Monday in January.Β Β 

This means that the holiday falls somewhere between January 15 and January 21 each year.

In anticipation of MLK Day, it's time to start planning your yearly community service projects and DEI team building activities that honor King's dream of racial justice and peace for all.

Need some ideas to get you started? Here are three ideas to honor King's legacy this January:


3 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. with your team:

1. Learn about the Civil Rights leader's life πŸ“š

Surely, you've heard MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, but his racial and social justice work includes so much more. This MLK Day, take time to familiarize yourself with more of his early life and upbringing in Atlanta, GA, that led him to become such a pillar in the Civil Rights Movement.

Consider listening to some of his other lesser-known speeches, marches, and public appearances that played a monumental role in advocating for the nonviolent approach in the Civil Rights Movement, and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Why is this a great activity for MLK Day? It brings your team together to learn more about MLK's history. This activity helps us understand the racial injustice he fought against through educational resources, a Q&A, and more.

How to get started πŸ‘‰ Learn more about Dr. King in The MLK You Didn't Know!
Virtual The MLK You Didn't Know


2. Honor MLK's legacy β™₯️

Although MLK's life was taken much too soon, he left a revolutionary impact on our nation and the world as a whole. His speeches, sermons, and teachings on nonviolence have shaped artists, educators, and writers all over.

This MLK day, take time to examine works of art from local and national galleries that were created in response to racial injustice and MLK's teachings.

Why is this a great activity for MLK Day? There is so much that can be learned from works of art, especially when you take time to gather together and discuss them from our different perspectives.

How to get started πŸ‘‰ See how MLK's dream has inspired others in Exploring MLK's Legacy Through Art!
Virtual Exploring MLK's Legacy Through Art


3. Find MLK Day volunteer opportunities 🀝

Another meaningful way to commemorate MLK is to offer your services to your beloved community. Plus, did you know? Apart from September 11th, MLK Day is the only federal holiday identified as a national day of service. It's the only national service day dedicated to an individual and their legacy!

Here are some ways you can support your communities in King's honor this MLK Day:

  • If some of your hybrid team members work in an office, have a food and coat drive! Nominate someone from the office to take the items to a local community charity that needs donations on your day off of work.
  • Make hygiene and necessity kits to support houseless people in your community.Β  The kits can include toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, soap, socks, hairbrush, water and food, and more.
  • Transform your local park (or other green space) into a vibrant oasis by picking up trash, planting vivid flowers, and nurturing new trees to make your community more beautiful and accessible.

Need some virtual volunteer opportunities? Here are some organizations you can support this MLK Day:

  • Volunteer as a transcriber with The Smithsonian, whose mission is to make historical documents and other educational materials more accessible to those with visual impairments. ⌨️
  • Sign up to volunteer with UPchieve, a free online platform that provides tutoring and college preparation services to low-income students. πŸ“
  • Make a financial contribution! Numerous organizations are striving for racial justice and equality and require donations, not just on MLK Day, but throughout the year. βš–οΈ

Why is this an excellent activity for MLK Day? MLK Day is, after all, a national day of service! What better way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King than by spending your day off from work or school actively contributing to a more inclusive and accessible society?

How to get started πŸ‘‰ Encourage your employees to start brainstorming the ways they'll spend their day of service outside of the office. If you live near coworkers, form smaller groups to hold each other accountable and volunteer together!


Carry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy this January 🎊

On this MLK Day, we hope you'll prioritize gathering with your team to learn more about King's legacy and implement his teachings in a national day of service, finding ways you can serve your community.

Ready to add your MLK Day team building event to your company calendar? Browse our MLK Day collection to get started!
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