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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy: A Day of Service and Reflection

January 14, 2024

Taken at Law Day, held at the University of Pennsylvania Museum on May 1, 1965. L to R: Raymond Pace Alexander, Sadie T.M. Alexander, Mar...
Taken at Law Day, held at the University of Pennsylvania Museum on May 1, 1965. L to R: Raymond Pace Alexander, Sadie T.M. Alexander, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert T. Trescher.

A collection of resources and events that honor Dr. King, celebrate the advances in our nation’s civil rights, and examine the work still to be done.

As we come together to honor the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., communities across the United States unite in a collective commitment to a day of service. Dr. King’s unwavering vision for change not only transformed civil rights protections but also ignited a fervent spirit of activism in generations dedicated to dismantling oppressive systems and combating injustice in all its forms. While we commemorate Dr. King, we also acknowledge the ongoing journey toward justice and equity.

A Day On, Not a Day Off: Get Involved

This year marks the 30th anniversary of when the “King Holiday and Service Act” was signed into law, designating it as the nation’s inaugural federally recognized day of service. As Dr. King once observed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service answers this question by fulfilling the mission of the holiday: empowering individuals, strengthening communities, bridging barriers, and creating solutions to social problems. This designation underscores the importance of viewing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as more than just a day off—it’s a day dedicated to improving communities and creating a positive impact.

Service Opportunities at Penn and Across Philadelphia

Martin Luther King Jr. Day stands as a poignant reminder of the significance of service, reflection, and the perpetual quest for justice. In alignment with this, we offer a curated selection of service events and initiatives happening throughout the Penn community and across Philadelphia. These activities present opportunities for individuals to actively engage in creating meaningful change while paying homage to Dr. King’s enduring legacy. 

2024 MLK Symposium Events at a Glance

January 15, 2024

8:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.


MLK Day of Service “Kick-Off” Breakfast (program starts 8:30am)


Location: Hall of Flags; Houston Hall, 3400 Spruce Street

9 a.m. – 12 p.m.


Free Dog and Cat Wellness and Vaccination Clinic

Location: Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, 3900 Spruce Street

See AARC calendar ( ) for more details.

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.


A Pocketbook Full of Toiletries / (Helping Hands Service Project #1)


Location: Bodek Lounge; Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street

10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Sock Stuffing Projects (Helping Hands Service Project #2)


Location: Bodek Lounge; Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Beautification Project: Laura Sims Skate House

Round-trip transportation provided


Location: 210 Cobbs Creek Parkway

10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. 


Class of ’80 / Sayre Mentoring Program

Location: 2nd floor balcony, Hall of Flags, Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Penn Reads Literacy & Children’s Art Project – “Imagine A World…!” Adults must have ID to enter the building


Location: Van Pelt Library, 6th Floor, 3420 Walnut Street (Entrance behind Button Sculpture)

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


So, you want to go to college? A Virtual Workshop


Location: A Zoom Virtual Event

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

MLK 101: A Re-Introduction to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Location: A Zoom Virtual Event

Other MLK Symposium Events

MLK Jr. Lecture in Social Justice

The 23rd Annual MLK Jr. Social Justice Lecture & Award: “Are Civil Rights Enough?” Celebrates Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, as she reflects on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with Professor Marcia Chatelain. Register now to attend this event on Wednesday, January 24th, 2024, at 5:30 pm, at the Zellerbach Theater in the Annenberg Center or online. Register here

Ongoing Events:

For a list of additional events spanning from January 16 to February 3, we encourage you to explore the calendar of events organized by Penn’s African-American Resource Center (AARC). Access the detailed schedule here. This resource offers insights into lectures, discussions, performances, and community service opportunities, providing a profound engagement with Dr. King’s ideals and the ongoing pursuit of social justice.

Reflect and Learn: Resources on Dr. King’s Work and Legacy

The Biddle Law Library has collected the following resources to lay a 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.
  • 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: