Smith Releases Statement on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith released the following statement:

“Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, we celebrate Dr. King’s unwavering commitment to equality and justice. His legacy continues to transform the world.

“When Dr. King spoke at the March on Washington, he described a ‘fierce urgency of now.’ More than 50 years later, his words remind us that we are stronger when we march forward, together.

“Our nation has faced great challenges in recent years, and today, the global pandemic has opened our eyes wider to the inequity in our world. Through service alongside our neighbors, we can build more equitable and just communities that advance racial equity, create opportunity, and foster respect for individual differences.

“As CEO of AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, I am honored to help lead the effort for MLK Day of Service, the only federal holiday that is also a national day of service.

“AmeriCorps has led this effort for the past quarter-century, and we are grateful to work alongside our partners at the King Center today and beyond.

“One of Dr. King's most famous quotes, and something that I come back to all the time is ‘everybody can be great because everybody can serve.’ The message he conveyed was about equality, about equity, about justice, about coming together, about reducing barriers. That is what MLK Day of Service is all about. Service can take us on a path from charity to justice; and whether people are donating to a food bank or advocating to change policies that address food insecurity, their service matters.

“While much work remains to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of the Beloved Community, we have seen that service to our own communities can unite Americans from all walks of life to tackle our nation’s most pressing challenges. Every day, each of us can play a part in continuing this critical work.

“The MLK Day of Service has grown as more Americans embrace taking an active role in their neighborhoods to help improve their communities. I hope MLK Day will not just be a single day of service but an opportunity for Americans to begin building a lifetime of service by volunteering on a regular basis or committing to national service with AmeriCorps.

“Our goal is to spark a passion and create relationships between communities and individuals that extend past this day and support a new generation of civic-minded Americans, in the model of Dr. King.

“I hope that all who can, will join me and our fellow neighbors to honor Dr. King’s extraordinary legacy by acting with urgency to get involved, give back and continue creating the Beloved Community today and every day.”