As we move through a new year, do not forget the importance of coming together as a community. When we come together, we can make great strides towards real change. On Monday, January 18, we recognize a prominent leader who reminds us of that–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. King served as a Baptist minister and a civil rights activist. He led several peaceful protests during the Civil Rights Movement and is often associated with words relating to civil rights, nonviolence, peace, generosity, other-centered, and community focused. King was assassinated in 1968, just four years after winning a Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial injustice.

On MLK Day, we often commemorate King’s accomplishments and his lasting impact on the Civil Rights Movement. However, many do not know about the service component of the MLK Day national holiday. In 1983, legislation recognized the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday, and the country first observed the holiday in 1986. Later, in 1984, Congress passed the Service Act, which designated MLK Day as a national day of service. MLK Day of Service is now recognized on the third Thursday in January every year.

Encouraged by King’s teachings, a day of service should be a day to give back and improve the communities around you. He reminds us to be other-centered instead of self-centered. We all have something we can offer to make humanity a better place, and you can begin right in your communities. This MLK Day of Service, consider what act of service you can take to make a difference. Encourage your family and friends to take the same action and witness the power of coming together.

If you would like to take action in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, click here.