Money and A Day Of Service – MLK Jr. Day

Happy Monday everyone! Today is a day off for me, along with apparently about 37% of you located in the US, because it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Interestingly I’ve gotten this day off for about 5-10 years now, even though when I first started in the workforce we never had the day off. I decided to learn a bit more about the day, why it’s only recently that I’ve gotten it off, and what’s available to do today with my three boys.

A Bit Of History

Interestingly it seems that this day has a bit of a fraught history. People started petitioning for a day in honor of King’s work shortly after his assassination in 1968. However the holiday wasn’t signed into law until 1983, and it was first celebrated three years later in 1986. A number of states resisted having a day dedicated to King, though, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all states recognized MLK Jr. day as a holiday.

Why did it take so long? You might wonder.

Apparently several North Carolina senators led the charge against the day, alleging among other things that King was not important enough to receive such an honor; that King was associated with Communists; and criticizing his opposition to the Vietnam war.  Companies often object to the placement of the holiday, coming so soon after Christmas when many are closed or running on a skeleton crew. Many states didn’t adopt MLK Jr. day as a holiday for years, choosing instead to have And some states still like to combine King’s day with honoring Robert E Lee’s birthday, which just sounds wrong.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Money

Since this is primarily a personal finance site, I decided to go looking for some MLK Jr. money related facts. Turns out I’m not the only one doing this – on Page 1 of the Google search results I found my friend J Money from Budgets are Sexy with an awesome breakdown. Here’s what I found, both in that article and others:

  • Apparently King died without financial assets – and without a will
  • He had donated what money he had received from his work to the movement
  • He’s supposed to be on the $5 bill by around 2020
  • He approved of a “Freedom Budget” concept for all Americans, an idea developed in the 60’s and 70’s to “achieve freedom from want”


A Day Of Service

It wasn’t until 1994 that the King holiday became recognized as a day of service, thanks to a movement started by Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, and signed into law by Bill Clinton. This act challenged Americans to use the day to perform volunteer service in honor of the legacy of King.

One thing I’ve noticed since having kids is that it becomes significantly more difficult to do volunteer service. Most volunteer organizations don’t want small children around, and even older children often can’t participate. My oldest son is 14, and despite participating in a number of community service events through Boy Scouts, he’s often not welcomed to volunteer at organizations in town. Most of them don’t allow kids to volunteer until they’re 16 or 18, many due to insurance reasons.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to sit around and do nothing. Even if there are minimal service opportunities, it’s likely that you may have something going on in your state. You just need to seek it out.

Take, for example, where I live in Connecticut. I was checking the site Mommy Poppins and found a great list of things to do this MLK Jr. day with kids. Most of them are free or low cost, and focus on doing service, teaching kids about the life of Martin Luther King Jr, or generally focusing on the message of peace.  I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to do some of these today – unfortunately I’ve been under the weather for the past four days, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. But even if I can’t go along, my husband can take the boys.

I’ll make sure the boys understand the history behind the day, and do something in honor of it, instead of just treating it like any other three day weekend.

I Want To Hear From You

What are you doing this MLK Jr. day? Do you get the day off or will you be working? And have you found any good service opportunities with kids? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to follow my blog for more great posts via e-mail or WordPress, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and say hello! You can also check out what I’m buying or baking on Instagram,  what I’m pinning on Pinterest, or the latest books I’m reading (or want to read) over on Goodreads.


11 thoughts on “Money and A Day Of Service – MLK Jr. Day”

  1. Enjoy the day off and I hope you are well enough to join your family! What a wonderful way to give back in honor of Martin Luther King Jr!

    1. Interestingly in my research I found that the only other place in the world that celebrates the day is Hiroshima Japan. It relates to MLK Jrs message of peace, which of course resonates with the people who live there.

  2. I have often wanted to bring my kids along to volunteer, but you’re right–organizations aren’t very welcoming. Our church’s youth group has the kids make meals for the sick and shut-in. I love that, because they can see how many people they’re helping that way. Today we will talk about Dr. King’s legacy, and the blight of racism that still affects our nation. But we won’t be doing any volunteering–just skiing! Stay warm, and feel better!

    1. That’s great that your church does that! Ours doesn’t have much for kids, more adults. And I wish there were more volunteer opportunities for kids but as the mother of three, I understand why there isn’t. I sure hope I feel better today, it’s been a lousy four days! Ughhhhh

  3. Not doing any volunteering today. But I’m glad MLK day isn’t associated with another excuse to buy stuff we don’t really need. We can take one day off from consumerism.

  4. Wow – I had no idea it wasn’t until 2000 until it became a national holiday (I didn’t graduate high school until 2006 so I didn’t notice – that and I’m sure Washington state was ahead of the curve). And yes, I was working today. What happens when you work for a small company 🙂

  5. I didn’t know MLK Jr. day wasn’t recognized as a holiday until 2000, it thought it was earlier than that. I remember as early in grade school in the late 80s and 90s that they recognized as a holiday and didn’t go to school.
    I did get the day off from MLK Jr. day and just relaxed since we had to babysit Baby with Cents.

    1. chiefmomofficer

      It wasn’t recognized as such in all 50 states until then. Some had a “day of service” or “civil action day” instead and did not mention King.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.