Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim

Statement by USAID Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa

For Immediate Release

Monday, January 18, 2021
Office of Press Relations

On January 18, the national Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) celebrates the 26th anniversary of the official commemoration of the civil-rights leader’s life and legacy. In 1994, Congress passed legislation that established MLK Day as the only Federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities — a “day on, not day off.”

Dr. King worked tirelessly to build a society that values the worth and dignity of every human being — principles shared by USAID. He believed in challenging America to live up to the ideals of liberty and justice for all enshrined in our Constitution. He also recognized the power of service to build communities not just materially, but also socially. Dr. King’s steadfast commitment to be the voice of change here, and around the world, speaks to his passion in advocating for the disadvantaged, victims of injustice, and the impoverished.

USAID encourages participation in the MLK Day of Service, in which a growing number of individuals engage in educational and volunteer projects, such as tutoring and mentoring children, painting schools and senior centers, delivering meals, and building homes. Today, and throughout the year, as we reflect on Dr. King’s life and teachings, the USAID family recommits to our goals of giving voice and visibility to marginalized populations in their societies and protecting their rights to justice and human dignity.

In normal times, I would encourage everyone to participate in a Day of Service in person. However, in observance of this year’s theme, “The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community,” I urge you to share the vision of a more just, humane, equitable, and peaceful world by creating and participating in service activities that can be done at home. Here are some upcoming events sponsored by the King Center.