Call For Arts Service Organizations: Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service




Department of Cultural Affairs Performing Arts Division


Jan 5, 2024 - 12:00 am



“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) will commission two (2) arts service organizations to offer their resources at the 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Festival in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Arts organizations who provide wellness arts and/or social justice services through the arts as a prescription and pathway tohealing and wholeness, will proffer their resources alongside thePerforming Arts Division (PERF) at DCA’s booth at this year’s festival.

Freedom Fest is sponsored by the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Districts and begins at the culmination of the 2024 Kingdom Day Parade on Monday, January 15, 2024. from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., on People Street and Degnan Blvd in historic Leimert Park Village.

Two arts organizations, selected by peer-panel-review, will each receive a commission of $5,000 for their service organization. Funded through DCA’s Leimert Park Cultural Hub, awards may take up to 90 days to process.

The deadline to apply is midnight Friday January 5, 2024.Please email the application to, with MLK Day of Service on subject the line.



Artists are our last responders! They can take what has happened in the world, transform it, and give it back to us in ways humanity can process— mind, body and spirit.

In a recent study it was found that 77% of those surveyed made or consumed art as a way to decompress from the effects of racism. This is a great indication that the arts can be instrumental in self-care and healing in day-to-day life.


28% create art (performing arts, visual arts, crafts)

49% watch art (film, TV, fine arts)

41% meditate or do other mindfulness practices

59% exercise or workout

19% stretch or do yoga

49% indulge in food or drink (healthy or otherwise)


Utilizing arts programming to promote healing and wholeness as a practice would serve our City, its workers, and our citizens well. Dr. James Haywood Rolling, Jr. wrote, “Art matters. Toward the achievement of social justice and the work of shaping human potential, the value of each life and everycreative act indispensably enriches us all.”

And from singer, songwriter and musician, Nina Simone, An artists’ duty, as far as I see it, is to reflect the times. That to me is my duty. And at this critical time in our lives, where every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved.


On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our nation celebrates Dr. King’s legacy and prolific career as an activist, leader, and minister during the civil rights movement. Dr. King was known for his speeches, sermons, and writings that motivated society to strive for racial equality, peace, and justice. His most notable speech, “I Have a Dream,” was delivered in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—aiming to give all Americans hope and inspiration to achieve civil and economic equality. In 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his dynamic leadership and nonviolent campaign efforts. Dr. King’s life journey and powerful words leave timeless footprints in our nation and remain relevant in our continued quest towards freedom and justice for all.

At the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), we are proud to support many artists and arts organizations as well as provide opportunities for participation and engagement in many MLK-based artworks that have enriched our nation’s cultural fabric. Take a virtual walk with us as we explore artworks across various disciplines that celebrate Dr. King’s life and impact.

To see the artworks visit:



Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and often referred to shorthand as MLK Day) is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year. Born in 1929, Kings actual birthday is January 15 (which in 1929 fell on a Tuesday). The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21.

King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in Kings honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later on January 20, 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.


The national Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Servicewas started by former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act. The federal legislation challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of King. The federal legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 23, 1994. Since 1996, Woffords former state office director, Todd Bernstein, has been directing the annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service, the largest event in the nation honoring King.

The only other official national day of service in the U.S., as designated by the government, is September 11 National Day of Service (9/11 Day).

To learn more visit:



In honor of what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s 90th birthday, President Obama sent the message below reflecting on Dr. Kings legacy and the power of serving others:

Today marks what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s 90th birthday. And although hes not with us today, Dr. Kings steadfast commitment to the causes of equality and justice continue to transform the world. I still draw inspiration from his deep-rooted belief in service. As he said: Lifes most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?  

This message is as important now as it was more than 60 years ago. Dr. King taught us that if we work together—if folks of all backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life find common ground—we can bend the arc of the moral universe and change history.  

As 2018 came to a close, I asked you to make a commitment in 2019—to look at your community and find something you could do to make a difference. Theres no better time to take action than by turning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into a day of service.  Lets honor the legacy of one of historys greatest changemakers together—by taking steps to make a positive collective impact on the world.

What can you do to serve on MLK Day? It can be as simple as volunteering at your local library, bringing canned goods to a food pantry, or checking in on senior citizens in your neighborhood. Even the smallest acts of kindness help spur change in our communities.

Lets turn next Monday into a day of service. What will you do to make your community stronger?


Application Materials

Be in the Loop!

Receive notes about art, culture, and creativity in LA!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact