Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Local celebrations and opportunities for service

January 17 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday recognizing the life and legacy of the civil rights leader.

MLK Day is also the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service and as a “day on, not a day off”, in recognition of Dr. King’s service to his country.

This HistoryLink article describes Dr. King’s sole visit to Seattle 60 years ago, when he spoke at the Temple de Hirsch and University of Washington on November 9, and at Eagles Auditorium and Garfield High School on November 10.

In his talk at UW, Dr. King asked President Kennedy to enact an executive order to declare all segregation unconstitutional, and spoke to the importance of young people in the civil rights struggle.

“The student movements have done more to save the soul of the nation than anything I can think of,” King said to a standing ovation.

Dr. King attended public school in Georgia, which was segregated at the time. He graduated from high school at age 15 and earned his B.A. when he was just 19. King completed his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University four years later.

He then became pastor for Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and was already a member of the executive committee of the NAACP. Dr. King advocated for nonviolent protest, leading a bus boycott in Montgomery in 1956 to protest the city’s racial segregation policy, which was sparked by Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her bus seat for white passengers.

Between 1957 and his assassination in 1968, Dr. King spoke over 2,500 times and traveled over 6 million miles to wherever there was an opportunity to advocate for nonviolent protest. He also became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize awardee at 35.

Today, Dr. King leaves a legacy of service, with countless organizations hosting “Day of Service” opportunities where volunteers can carry on his legacy in his community. Check out some local ways to participate.

PSRC is working to advance racial equity through a new Regional Equity Strategy that aims to make equity central to all that we do as a regional planning organization. It will include data, strategies and best practices that PSRC and our member jurisdictions can put to work to create a more equitable region.