A Call to Service

By Ginny A. Roth

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pastor, activist and prominent leader of the American civil rights movement, was born January 15, 1929. This poster, printed for NIH’s 14th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Program, features designer Alfred Laoang’s illustration of Dr. King’s profile looming large in the sky as people march on the ground, below.

In tribute to Dr. King, a national holiday is observed each year in the United States, on the third Monday in January. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday as a national day of service. By volunteering, Americans transform Dr. King’s teachings of joining people together to bridge differences into community service that will strengthen society.  On this day, every selfless gesture and call to service brings Dr. King’s dream of a “Beloved Community” closer to reality.

Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

portrait of Ginny outside Ginny A. Roth is the Curator of Prints & Photographs in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.