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Celebrate MLK Day the Right Way

By Julie Fink
Posted On Jan 18, 2016
Celebrate MLK Day the Right Way

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In commemoration of MLK Day, Apple posted a beautiful picture across their homepage of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., accompanied by an inspiring quote which read, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Out of the many powerful and moving quotes, I feel like this one, in particular, is an echo of what Mr. King would have envisioned for this day to be; a day of service. The MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service, and thus its motto is “a day on, not a day off.”

So basically, it’s one day out of the year that our government says it’s ok to get paid to go out there and help others.

Forbes reporter notes, “There’s a way for all of us to walk the walk – through service… organized by the Corporation for Community and National Service, is a way of answering this question and fulfilling the mission of the holiday: empowering individuals, strengthening communities, bridging barriers, creating solutions to social problems, and moving us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.”

But, only 37% of employers offer the holiday as a paid day off to their employees. This number has increased steadily since it’s inception in 1986 when it was at 14%. Progress!

A few shining examples:

  • Kaiser Permanente, national healthcare organization (No. 3 in the Diversity Inc. Top 50) broke records a few years ago with more than 7,000 volunteers for MLK Day of Service
  • At Accenture (Charlotte), a professional services company, employees have served the local communities through the Habitat for Humanity MLK Day Build project
  • Accenture (Miami) volunteers were invited to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and participate in various service activities
  • 62% of non-business establishments, which include government, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations, are giving employees a paid day off

“The way to keep that dream alive is in what we do in memory of the person who gave so much to the movement, and gave so much service for the betterment of mankind,” says Marsha Mockabee, President of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland.

Now I just feel guilty. But I can’t wait to text this article to all my friends at home watching Netflix and catching up on laundry.