This MLK Day, We Can All Achieve ‘Greatness’

Jan 17, 2019 · 2 min read
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By Barbara L. Stewart
CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service

Next week we will observe the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service — one of two national days of service we are proud to lead at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). As Americans celebrate the life of this Civil Rights leader, we are reminded of the great legacy he left behind and why it’s important to honor Dr. King’s life in service.

Each year during the Martin Luther King Day of Service, CNCS is guided by the wishes of Dr. King’s heirs to make his birthday more than just a celebration of his life; it is also a day to encourage volunteering to improve our nation.

Dr. King’s role as a pivotal leader in securing equality for all of America’s residents is both instructive and inspirational, drawing from lessons learned in the pulpit and the classroom. In his sermon “The Drum Major Instinct,” Dr. King outlined a “new definition of greatness” based on the responsibility we all have to be active citizens and the roles we can play to make our communities better. This section of the sermon guides our service on this holiday.

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs to organizations like Samaritan’s Feet, the Arc, and Youth Service America, our partners across the country are engaging volunteers to honor Dr. King. We encourage Americans to find an organization they support and make a commitment to volunteer not only during the MLK Day holiday on Monday, Jan. 21, but also throughout 2019. Through service, we can bring our communities closer together and experience the “greatness” that lies within each of us.

Barbara L. Stewart is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that leads AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the nation’s volunteer efforts. You can learn more about how to volunteer in your community at

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