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President Obama Reflects on Dr. King's Legacy and Honors It with Service

Summary: 
President Obama issues a Presidential Proclamation commemorating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday. In honoring Dr. King's legacy, the President is dedicating his day to service, and encouraging all Americans to join in and lend a hand.

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Honoring the life of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Obama issued a proclamation commemorating the federal holiday marking Dr. King's birthday, and encouraged all Americans to honor his legacy through their own service.

President Obama called attention to Dr. King's courage and strength during his long battle for equality, and asked the nation to pause and pay tribute to his "extraordinary life and legacy."

The President added that in order to truly honor Dr. King, we must continue our own work to bring forth a better America:

We have more to do to bring Dr. King's dream within reach of all our daughters and sons. We must stand together for good jobs, fair wages, safe neighborhoods, and quality education. With one voice, we must ensure the scales of justice work equally for all -- considering not only how justice is applied, but also how it is perceived and experienced. As Dr. King told us, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," and this remains our great unfinished business.

Read the full proclamation here.


In 1994, Congress designated this holiday as a national day of service -- a "day on, not a day off." The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service is an opportunity for all Americans to honor Dr. King by coming together to help meet the needs of their communities and recommit to service throughout the year.

Throughout the day, the President and the First Lady, the Vice President, Cabinet secretaries, and other senior Administration officials are participating in a number of community service projects

The President and the First Lady headed to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, where they were joined by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer.

President Obama works with young boys during a community service project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington

President Barack Obama works with young boys during a community service project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama works with a young girl during a community service project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington

First Lady Michelle Obama works with a young girl during a community service project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

See where other Cabinet members are participating in Day of Service events in the D.C. area and around the country: 

Events in Washington, D.C. include the following:

  • Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Administrator of the General Services Administration Dan Tangherlini will serve at the Student Conservation Association’s annual King Day cleanup of Anacostia Park. 
  • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will serve at Southeast D.C.’s Eastern Senior High School alongside City Year AmeriCorps members. He will be joined by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald will serve at Fisher House in D.C., preparing and serving meals to veterans and their families.
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy will serve with Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members, building homes in the Ivy City neighborhood of Northeast D.C..

And throughout the nation:

  • Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew will serve alongside City Year AmeriCorps members in New York City. Service projects will include painting murals and accents, light construction, organization, kit-making, and workshops for youth.
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will serve at the Central Iowa Shelter & Service’s Mulberry Food and Farms Greenhouse in Des Moines to assist the Shelter’s team in providing work and housing placement services.
  • Administrator of the Small Business Administration Maria Contreras-Sweet will serve alongside City Year AmeriCorps members at Gage Park High School in Chicago.
  • Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power will serve with Student Conservation Association AmeriCorps members at the East River Park in Manhattan to improve the soil damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

For more on the MLK Day of Service, please visit the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) at MLKday.gov.