Nation Gears Up to Celebrate Life, Work of MLK Jr.

WASHINGTON – Nearly three months following the death of national civil rights mother Rosa Parks, African-American and faith communities are eagerly preparing to celebrate the birthday of the leader of the peaceful yet powerful movement, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In remembrance of a man who led hundreds of thousands of people in peaceful demonstrations and gave a dream to both the black people and the entire nation, local communities are gearing up for Jan. 16 with celebrations, worship services and community projects lined up for the upcoming 20th anniversary.

Just as the Rev. King, Jr. brought the different people groups together more than 40 years ago, individuals of all ages, races and backgrounds will be joining on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are anticipated to participate in service projects across the nation.

"Together, they will honor King’s legacy of tolerance, peace, and equality by meeting community needs and making the holiday 'A day ON, not a day OFF,'" said a statement on the service day website.

In Washington, D.C., local community service projects include "Serve DC," where some 500 volunteers are expected to serve the district's homeless population, a motivation seminar targeting youth to not give up and portray positive life skills, as well as beautification projects.

In Los Angeles, youth and volunteers with the L.A. Conservation Corps will prepare a plot to become a community garden serving the Watts community. Activities will include clearing debris, amending the soil, digging an irrigation trench and delineating garden bed lines.

In New York, Children for Children will hold its Fourth Annual “Grow Involved on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Manhattan. Honoring Dr. King’s legacy of a lifetime devoted to service, this huge service event consists of hands-on service projects run by twelve different New York City community-based organizations. Organizers expect approximately 700 children, families, and school groups to attend.

Sponsors for the Day of Service are Corporation for National & Community Service, Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, America's Promise, Do Something, First Book, Habitat for Humanity International, Points of Light Foundation, and Youth Service America.

During the 20th anniversary year, the life and work of Dr. King will be further commemorated with the groundbreaking of a national memorial in the nation's capital, scheduled for late 2006. The Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial will be constructed on the National Mall near the Jefferson and Roosevelt memorials with expected completion in 2008.

To support the building of the memorial, visit www.mlkmemorial.org.