Martin Luther King, Jr. Day–observed this year on Jan. 21–isn't just an extra holiday off of work and school. Groups all across the U.S. use the civil rights pioneer's holiday–proposed by Michigan Congressman John Conyers Jr. in 1968 and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983–as a day to pay tribute, educate, give back and reflect on the things MLK stood for in his lifetime.
Here's a look at some of the events planned in the area surrounding MLK Day, and how you can get involved.
MLK Day of Service
This Monday, Jan. 21, marks the 20th anniversary of the University of Michigan-Dearborn's partnership with the MLK Day of Service.
Students, staff, alumni and community members from UM-Dearborn, Henry Ford Community College and a slew of other colleges and groups will join together to work on services projects in metro Detroit, including at Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Vista Maria and many other places.
Online registration is closed, but walk-in volunteer opportunities may be available. Those interested can go to the University Center at UM-Dearborn, located at 4901 Evergreen Road, by 8 a.m. Monday morning. Other events throughout the week will also be open to the public.
For a full list of events, visit www.umd.umich.edu/mlk.
Donate a Coat
Don't have a day off to volunteer? The simple act of warmth is just one more way to give back.
All Burlington Coat Factory locations—including the one in Dearborn—are currently hosting a coat drive through Jan. 21. A donation of a gently used coat also gets you a 10 percent off coupon at the store.
Learn more at http://onewarmcoat.org/wcwh.
With Liberty and Justice For All Symposium
The Henry Ford Museum will host its annual tribute to Dr. King from 10-11:30 a.m. Jan. 21, including a discussion of civil rights and free admission to the museum all day.
This year will include remarks by Daniel Krichbaum, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, as well as a keynote speech and discussion panel with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts Jr.
Copies of Leonard Pitts' book Freeman will be available for purchase after the symposium, and the author will be available to sign your copy.
Books & Bookmarks
The Detroit Institute of Arts, normally closed on Mondays, will be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan 21, with certain special exhibits open for viewing. This is also the last day audiences can visit Fabergé: The Rise and Fall.
Also, kids can make handmade books and bookmarks at a drop-in MLK Day workshop from 12-4 p.m.