Monday, Jan. 21 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
For some, the national holiday honoring the prominent civil rights activist is a time to give back and serve the community, be it through removing graffiti or picking up litter in a local park.
For others, it’s an opportunity to educate themselves about King and his life's work. And for others, it’s a time to just kick back and enjoy the prolonged weekend.
Events celebrating the holiday
In New London, the Kente Cultural Cener will hold a birthday party celebrating King's legacy at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Open to children ages three to eight, the event will include storytelling, arts and crafts, singing, and cupcakes.
An ecumenical service will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the St. James Episcopal Church. The 28th annual service is sponsored by the board of trustees of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund. Winners of the scholarship, which is awarded to African-American students in New London County who exemplify the King's teachings, will be among the speakers at the service. A reception will follow.
Residents are also invited to gather outside the New London Superior Court at 10 a.m. on Monday to march to Shiloh Baptist Church. Speakers at this annual service will include local government officials and religious leaders.
There are also a number of other events throughout the state including events at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, which connects the past to the present through inspiring stories of two of America’s most prominent social activist, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Martin Luther King, Jr. In honor of the day, the Stowe’s Center is offering free house tours all day long including Special Child’s Tours for children ages 5-10.
The Holiday's History
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, now a U.S. holiday, took 15 years to create.
Legislation was first proposed by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) four days after King was assassinated in 1968.
The bill was stalled, but Conyers, along with Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-New York), pushed for the holiday every legislative session until it was finally passed in 1983, following civil rights marches in Washington.
Then-president Ronald Reagan signed it into law. Yet it was not until 2000 that every U.S. state celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by its name. Before then, states like Utah referred to the holiday more broadly as Human Rights Day.
Now, the Corporation for National and Community Service has declared it an official U.S. Day of Service.
TELL US: What does Martin Luther King Jr. Day mean to you? What are you doing to commemorate King’s legacy?
Tell us in the comments.