Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. The movements and marches he led brought significant changes in the fabric of American life through his courage and selfless devotion. This devotion gave direction to thirteen years of civil rights activities. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.
Dr. King’s concept of “somebodiness,” which symbolized the celebration of human worth and the conquest of subjugation, gave black and poor people hope and a sense of dignity. His philosophy of nonviolent direct action, and his strategies for rational and non-destructive social change, galvanized the conscience of this nation and reordered its priorities. His wisdom, his words, his actions, his commitment, and his dream for a new way of life are intertwined with the American experience.
On January 21st, 2008, millions of Americans across the country will once again honor his legacy by taking part in a wide range of service projects—conducting food drives, painting schools and community centers, recruiting mentors for needy youth, and bringing meals to homebound neighbors, to name but a few.
In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2008 is also pleased to join with other organizations in supporting a new initiative, “40 Days of Nonviolence: Building the Beloved Community.” Under this initiative, the King Day of Service will kick off 40 days during which families, schools, faith communities, and other organizations will plan service projects and educational activities promoting Dr. King’s message of nonviolence and social justice.
In the Words of Dr. King:
"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream...
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal...'
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning 'My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring...'
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!'"