In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, individuals and communities across the country are committing to a day of service. Dr. King’s unwavering vision for change radically altered civil rights protections and inspired generations of activists dedicated to continuing his work to dismantle the systems of oppression and fight injustice everywhere.
As our community commemorates Dr. King, we also recognize the unfinished work of ensuring justice and equity for all. This semester, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School launched a new legal clinic, the ARC Justice Clinic led by Director and Practice Associate Professor Cara McClellan GEd’12.
Inspired in part by Dr. King’s famous quote — “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” — the ARC Justice Clinic provides students with hands-on experience working on civil rights litigation and policy advocacy at the federal level. The clinic’s launch includes a symposium on February 3, entitled “The Unfinished Work of Abolition,” with three panel discussions covering topics ranging from how the legacy of slavery impacts today’s criminal justice system in the U.S. to movement lawyering.
A Day On, Not A Day Off: Get Involved
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the legislation establishing the national holiday, a milestone achieved after 15 years of tireless advocacy to commemorate Dr. King’s work. The holiday became the first federally recognized day of service in 1994 when the King Holiday and Service Act was signed into law, encouraging everyone to have “a day on, not a day off” dedicated to improving their communities.
Below is a selection of numerous service events and initiatives this week throughout the Penn community and across Philadelphia. Also check out this comprehensive list of events taking place between January 16 and February 3, organized by Penn’s African-American Resource Center (AARC).
Monday, January 16
- 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Kick-Off Breakfast | Hall of Flags, Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
- 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Lancaster Avenue Corridor (West Philly) Clean Up | 3959 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
- 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: A Pocketbook Full of Toiletries Project | Bodek Lounge, 3417 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104. No registration needed.
- 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Sock Stuffing Project | Bodek Lounge, 3417 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104. No registration needed.
Wednesday, January 18
- 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Screening of “Trigger: A Documentary” | Paul Robeson High School, 4125 Ludlow St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Thursday, January 19
- 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Interfaith Commemoration and Conversation in Social Justice | Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
The Interfaith Commemoration and Conversation in Social Justice will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. There will be a presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement Awards and musical entertainment. This event will feature a conversation with Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace.
Registration is requested. Arrive early as registration does not guarantee a seat. Contact: Mary LeCates @ 215.898.8456.
- City-wide Donations Project: Donors can choose from pre-selected donation sites, purchase items from their site “needed supply” list.
- Penn Reads Literacy Project: The Penn Reads Literacy Project commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by collecting multicultural children’s books for early childcare centers in our community. Be the catalyst for sparking a child’s imagination by donating a book today.
- “King the Preacher Series”: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a pastor and preacher. His work for justice was grounded in his faith, yet we hear less about his sermons than we do about his speeches. Join us on Tuesdays and Fridays (12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.) for an opportunity to hear a sermon. For more information contact: Megan LeCluyse @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Location: Christian Association University-Pa, 118 S 37th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Reflect and Learn: Resources on Dr. King’s Work and Legacy
The following resources lay the foundation for learning about the work of Dr. King. The listed books and e-books are available through Penn Libraries.
- Robert Hamilton, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968(2020). Online access available through the Biddle catalog.
- Meena Krishnamurthy, Martin Luther King Jr. on Democratic Propaganda, Shame, and Moral Transformation (2022). Online access through the Biddle catalog.
- Dan Abrams, Alabama v. King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Criminal Trial that Launched the Civil Rights Movement (2022). Online access through the Penn catalog.
- Alexander Livingston, Power for the Powerless: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Late Theory of Civil Disobedience (2020). Online access through the Biddle catalog.
- Lewis V. Baldwin, The Arc of Truth: The Thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr.(2022). Online access through the Penn catalog.
- Andrew J. Douglas & Jared A. Loggins, Prophet of Discontent: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Critique of Racial Capitalism (2021). Online access through the Penn catalog.
- John Francis Burke, Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Social Gospel (2019). Online access through the Biddle catalog.
The following resources critically examine who Dr. King was and what he stood for while celebrating and elevating his activism:
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Center at Stanford University
- “Economic Equality and Social Solidarity: MLK’s Neglected Legacies”: Harvard Law Review
- “Where do We Go from Here?” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Workers’ Rights: Harvard Law & Policy Review
- “A ‘Notorious Litigant’ and ‘Frequenter of Jails’: Martin Luther King, Jr., his Lawyers, and the Legal System”: Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy
- “King’s Dream of Affirmative Action”: Harvard Latinx Law Review
- “10 Historians on What People Still Don’t Know About Martin Luther King Jr.”: Time
- “The Sanctification — and Sanitization — of Martin Luther King Jr.”: Vox
- “Important parts of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy are often glossed over”: NPR