Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 16, 2023

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the influential American minister and civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns for racial equality and nonviolence, as well as his many stirring speeches at a time when racial inequality and violent acts were especially widespread in the United States. 

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Though he has been gone for over 50 years, his wife (Coretta Scott King, deceased) and four children, personal friends, as well as many others have kept not only his legacy but also his dream alive by continuing his mission. 

Beginning in 1968, many bills were brought forth to recognize Dr. King’s impact with a holiday around the time of his birthday, January 15th. None were successful until President Ronald Reagan finally signed the day into law in 1983, and it was first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1986. All 50 states did not officially recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day until the year 2000. 

Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act of 1994 (sponsored by John Lewis), which amends the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to authorize eligible entities to carry out service opportunities in conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. At the time of its passing, Congress asked Americans of all backgrounds and ages to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by turning community concerns into action. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, said “The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America.” 

At Second Harvest, we will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 16th. Because of the nature of our work in the service of our community, we will still have some staff, volunteers, mobile pantries, and deliveries to our partner agencies on this day. We will be incorporating intentional time with our volunteers around equity and justice by adding 1 hour of guided dialogue and self-reflection. Our staff is encouraged to use this day to reflect, learn, or support others in the spirit of Dr. King’s mission to unify behind a single goal: the pursuit of equal and equitable rights for all.  

For some further resources and online celebrations of the day, please see below: 

Engage year-round on social media:

King Coalition of Dane County

Listen to a recording of one of Dr. King’s most influential speeches 

(I have a Dream, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., August 28th, 1963)

Join a celebration in our area:

Monday, Jan 16, 2023– Official Madison/Dane County MLK Day Observance

Overture Center for the Arts, Madison

(Free to the public)

5:15 pm -7:30 pm 

Monday, Jan 16, 2023– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Prairie Pheonix Academy, Sun Prairie

(Free to the public)

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Sing! For Martin Luther King!

There are two rehearsals at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 2019 Fisher Street, Madison. 

(Free to the public)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 11:00 am

**Performance will be at the Overture Center for the Arts during the Official Madison/Dane County on Monday, Jan 16, 2023, starting at 5:15 pm

Staff Learning:

Justified Anger: Black History For A New Day Course 

Spring 2023, 10 Second Harvest teammates are attending to understand how the African-American experience has shaped the world we all live in, and how allies can find roles supporting racial justice today. Rooting ourselves in our history, and understanding how we got here, will help us move forward together to make a better world and a stronger local community.