Biden, Harris to promote day of service in the spirit of MLK ahead of inauguration

This year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors the icon and encourages Americans to volunteer in COVID-19 relief.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee of President-elect Joe Biden has asked Americans to commit to a day of service on Monday, Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

The National Day of Service will be in honor of America’s late civil rights great, officials say, and encourage Americans to volunteer in service to their communities in activities focused on COVID-19 relief. 

MLK Celebration
The National Day of Service on Jan. 18 will be in honor of America’s civil rights leader-icon Martin Luther King Jr. and encourage Americans to volunteer in service to their communities in activities focused on COVID-19 relief. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

In a statement, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that they will “partner with service leaders, community members, and local, state and national organizations across the country to organize events that unite Americans around service in their communities.”

Events will focus on “COVID-19 relief and address challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, such as poverty, hunger, racial injustice, homelessness, mental health and educational disparities.” 

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“When Dr. King accepted the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, he underscored our collective responsibility to strive towards the ‘oughtness’ that confronts us as it does today,” said PIC Chief Executive Officer Tony Allen. 

“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are empathetic leaders,” Allen said, “who know the crisis millions of American families are facing. And like Dr. King, they know that we must have a shared commitment — in word and in deed — to bring the nation together in service to others.” 

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Local event planners can email the Presidential Inaugural Committee to learn more or to submit their event to be listed. 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage, the Biden inauguration committee is encouraging virtual events and asking that those being held in-person adhere to strict health and safety protocols. 

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King Day observations come two days before the official inauguration of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The duo ran on a promise to “restore the soul of America,” and the planned events of a day of service on Jan. 18 and a nationwide COVID-19 memorial on Jan.19 illustrate the immediate focus of their new administration. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed legislation to transform the holiday into a day of citizen action and volunteering. 

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