Monday, Jan. 21 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
For some, the national holiday honoring the prominent civil rights activist is a time to give back and serve the community, be it through removing graffiti or picking up litter in a local park.
For others, it’s an opportunity to educate themselves about King and his life's work. And for others, it’s a time to just kick back and enjoy the prolonged weekend.
Cedar Grove classes will view and analyze King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech and read stories on King's early life. Sixth-grade students will read "Daddy" written about MLK by his daughter, Yolanda King.
“All grade level teachers will be recognizing and discussing with the students reasons for recognizing Dr. King on Monday,” said Cedar Grove Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Polles.
Kindergarten students will complete a friendship and peace quilt to commemorate Dr. King's lessons.
First-grade students at South End Elementary School will conduct an activity where they will look at the outside of brown and white eggs. The students will discuss what they think they look like inside. The first graders will crack the eggs open and learn that even though the eggs may be brown or white on the outside, they are all the same on the inside.
“(The lesson is) very clever I think,” said Polles.
Other grades will commemorate the day with various art projects, songs, lessons and readings.
The Newark Museum, located at 49 Washington St. in Newark will feature several events in honor of Dr. King between noon and 4:30 p.m., including a live stream of President Barack Obama's inauguration at 12 p.m., film screenings of King's "I Have a Dream" speech and a performance by the North Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club.
Express Yourself Studios, located at 1877 Springfield Ave. in Maplewood is hosting “Explore the Dream Through Art” workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Learn about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement through art,” they announced on their website. “Children between the ages of 4-12 are welcome to participate in an art project exploring the themes of Peace, Equality and Friendship.”
Participants are asked to bring a canned or boxed non-perishable food item to be donated to the Wallace Chapel Food Pantry in Summit, NJ.
Livingston High School, at 30 Robert H. Harp Drive in Livingston has a day of service beginning at 10 a.m. In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, various organizations from throughout Livingston will be working on different service projects.
Congregation B'nai Israel, at 160 Millburn Ave., in Millburn will have an afternoon of community learning for Martin Luther King Mitzvah Day.
Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church, at 600 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood will hold a MLK Annual Community Observance starting at 3 p.m.
So, tell us—What does Martin Luther King Jr. Day mean to you? What are you doing to commemorate King’s legacy?
The Holiday's History
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, now a U.S. holiday, took 15 years to create.
Legislation was first proposed by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) four days after King was assassinated in 1968.
The bill was stalled, but Conyers, along with Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-New York), pushed for the holiday every legislative session until it was finally passed in 1983, following civil rights marches in Washington.
Then-president Ronald Reagan signed it into law. Yet it was not until 2000 that every U.S. state celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by its name. Before then, states like Utah referred to the holiday more broadly as Human Rights Day.
Now, the Corporation for National and Community Service has declared it an official U.S. Day of Service.
TELL US: What does MLK Day mean to you? Tell us in the comments.