MLK Day 2020: Finding Greatness in Service

Just a few days ago I recognized what would have been the 91st birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. if he had not been assassinated on April 4, 1968.

While sadly he is gone, he will live forever in the hearts and minds of those who believe in social justice because of his actions and writings. With inspiration from Dr. King, I’ve written about hope and shared his vision of the Beloved Community. I’ve revisited the Dream. I’ve reflected upon a life too short as we commemorated the 50th anniversary of his death.

The words and lessons from Dr. King are invariably and reliably universal. They are profound. They always quoted.

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day 2020, we will be recognizing the 25th MLK Day of Service. Soon after the day became a federal holiday back in the 1980s, many observers noted that not working on this day would not be a true celebration of the man and his endeavors. They quickly rectified that by calling for the day to be one for service as much as it was for celebration. Thus, the motto for MLK Day has become: “Make it a day on, not a day off.”

And has been evidenced across Atlanta Public Schools, we are a community that has an abundance of love and grace. So at the advent of this 25th MLK Day of Service, let’s celebrate the day with service.

Thanks to our partnership with Hands on Atlanta, we have several opportunities to participate in projects at our schools. On Saturday, the Hands on Atlanta Discovery program visited Harper-Archer, Scott and Usher-Collier Heights elementary schools to provide tutoring and enrichment. The program reinforces weekday learning through academic assistance, educational games, field trips, service-learning projects, and other enrichment activities. There are opportunities throughout the year to volunteer with this effort. 

Today, volunteers with Learning in Color will transform elementary classrooms at Harper Archer into color-rich and inspiring learning environments. Other volunteers will work on beautification projects at Scott, including landscaping, school garden cultivation and interior painting.

Go to and  to learn more.

But this dedication to service cannot end on Monday, January 20. It must continue throughout the year.

Within our own schools, we have students who need to be better served by our district and supported by our community. They are unable to keep up because their families are struggling without resources, facing intergenerational poverty and needing quality educational services from birth to high school graduation to college.

We have a lot of work ahead, but I believe we have the right people with the right attitudes and the right plans to give every child in Atlanta a fighting chance at a choice-filled life. While it starts with heart and soul and love and grace, it can be best achieved through service!


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