Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and although it means a day off work for most people, it can also be a day for service.
President Ronald Reagan signed this official federal holiday into law in 1983. The holiday, which celebrates King's birthday, was first observed in 1986. While some states celebrated King's birthday while others did not, the year 2000 marked the first time that all 50 states officially observed the holiday.
Last week President Barack Obama announced he would be participating in a volunteer service project in honor of King and urged other Americans to do so. You don't have to look far to find a local opportunity for learning or service.
Here are some Westchester events in King's honor:
The Westchester Martin Luther King Jr Institute for Nonviolence will hold the Violence Building Conference in the Reid Castle at Manhattanville College at 2900 Purchase Street, Saturday February 6. About 200 adults and youths ages 11 to 18 are expected to attend. For information call (914) 949-6555.
"It's a youth leadership event and we give them a unique chance to learn about King, the civil rights movement and what it means to them," said Julie Carran, co-chair of the Westchester Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Non-Violence. "It shows them how they can be active in the community."
The Mount Kisco Public Library will hold a discussion of the "I Have a Dream" speech for children ages 8 to 12 and their parents at The Mount Kisco Public Library at 100 East Main Street at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Registration is required and can be done either in person or the phone. For more information call Deidre Johnson, head of Youth Services, 914-864-0130.
"This event brings families together," Johnson said. "It is important for kids to know that even though they are young, they can make a difference. We are letting them know the dream is still alive."
Pace University will hold the 10th Annual Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Commeration Breakfast called "Generation" in which attendees will discuss social issues of this generation. The breakfast takes place at the Pleasantville Campus, 861 Bedford Road, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Friday, January 29. The discussion will include keynote speaker Pedro Noguera, PH.D Professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development and a music performance by P.I.PE. RSVP with Cornell Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-773-3775.
The Westchester Library System (WLS) will hold its 12th annual African American Writers & Readers Literary Tea on Monday January 18 at Abigail Kirsch's Tappan Hill, 81 Highland Avenue, from 3:30 pm. to 6 p.m. It will include novelist and poet Pearl Cleage. Tickets for the 2010 Literary Tea are $75 for general admission. This year's honorary chair is Westchester County Legislator Kenneth W. Jenkins. A raffle, with proceeds benefiting African American programs at WLS's 38 member libraries, will also be held.
As part of Martin Luther King Buildathon Week Habitat for Humanity of Westchester will target Haiti Habitat as the recipient of their donations. For more info call 1-888-9-HABITAT.
The Westchester Jewish Conference will have their J-Teen Martin Luther King Day Project at their headquarters at 701 Westchester Ave, Suite 203E at 1p.m. The project is to be determined. For more info call Tracey Bilski at 914-588-2230.
Celebrate the 81st birthday of African-American Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. Listen to the story, "A Taste of Colored Water," by Matt Faulkner at White Plains Public Library at 100 Martine Ave at 4:30p.m. Join in some fun activities, including craft making, honoring this hero and his dream for peace. The event is for children in grades 1 to 6. Additional Information: Tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis 30 minutes before the start of the program. Arrive early. For more info call Rosemary Rasmussen, 914-422-1476.
The Terrace City Lodge will be having its annual Martin Luther King Day Jr. Dinner for the needy on Monday, January 18 at 95 North Broadway at 3p.m. Clothing and shoe donations are being accepted to distribute at the dinner. For more information call 914-969-3663.