MLK Observance 2023

Collage of photos from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, and images demonstrating acts of service and protests.
Quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American flag

A Message from the Strategist

The Time Is Now – Remember. Act. Serve.

We remember the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – an extraordinary Black man whose legacy lives on. Dr. King was a civil rights leader, non-violent activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. His achievements are an inspiration to us all.

Dr. King’s legacy should be revered in the same manner as the dream he espoused on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial “...even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream ... that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (

Dr. King lived by three tenets: social justice, economic advancement, and equality. In service to those tenets, Congress in 1994, declared that the Dr. King holiday would receive a national designation as a day of service. To align with this national designation and in keeping with Dr. King’s enduring question “[W]hat are you doing for others?” EDI’s theme this year is “The Time Is Now – Remember. Act. Serve.”

Dr. King dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and equity. However, this work is far from complete. Our Nation continues to experience increased levels of social injustice and racial inequities against diverse communities. These are the very injustices that Dr. King gave his life for more than five decades ago. The time to act is now. The time to serve is now. When you witness wrongdoing in the world, remember that you have the power to create change. Each of us, collectively, plays an important role in building a more just and equitable society.

Kiana Atkins

Kiana Atkins
Principal Strategist for the Black Employment Portfolio

Messages from our Leadership

Dr. Tabak


On Monday, January 16, 2023, we join the Nation in remembering and celebrating the legacy and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King's life and achievements challenged the world to recognize that true liberty and justice depend on our acceptance of equality. Observed each year on the third Monday in January, MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service, encouraging all Americans to improve their communities through volunteering. This day shines a light on our ability to serve others and is a powerful reminder to bridge economic and social divides by empowering communities, developing relationships, and addressing social injustices.

Recent Executive Orders provide a framework for realizing Dr. King's dream in the federal workplace. The Federal Government must be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). As Dr. King said, "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." Every person must be free to pursue their full measure of success regardless of their protected class. To that end, I anticipate the publication of the NIH-wide DEIA Strategic Plan in the near future, which will contain descriptions of our broad scope, aspirational goals, accomplishments to date, and plans for accountability.

I am very proud of the work we are doing here at NIH to promote change, foster communication, and enhance transparency. In addition to continuing our work within UNITE, last year we initiated a series of listening sessions (VPN required to watch) to engage with staff regarding challenges they are currently experiencing. We have also published the Racial and Ethnic Equity Plan (REEP) for each ICO on the NIH’s Ending Structural Racism intranet page. The REEPs outline how each ICO is advancing racial and ethnic equity in the workplace using evidence-based methods, including assessing progress and identifying opportunities for improvement. As a whole, NIH is committed to addressing the challenges that disproportionally affect diverse communities at NIH and in a broader social context. We are continuing these efforts to ensure we embody Dr. King's spirit of service to engage in DEIA principles and dismantle systemic racism and discrimination.

I encourage you to reflect on how we can mirror Dr. King's example of service in our own lives, not only during this holiday, but every day. You can discover more about Dr. King's legacy by visiting the MLK campaign developed by the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at the EDI website and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube

. You can also get involved by learning more about the Black Employment Portfolio.

Thank you for your service to NIH's mission and commitment to ensuring our work demonstrates the importance of Dr. King's legacy.


Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Performing the Duties of the NIH Director

Kevin D. Williams, Esq.

Dear NIH,

This Monday, the Nation will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King dedicated his entire life to promoting, defending, and upholding justice. An indelible figure, Dr. King left a legacy that remains worthy of recognition and celebration. He challenged the world to recognize that true liberty depends on our willingness to treat everyone fairly. As we reflect upon Dr. King’s life and wonder what impact we can have, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) wants the NIH community to focus on the following: “The Time Is Now – Remember. Act. Serve.”

Dr. King lived during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a time of great social and political unrest. Because he had probably witnessed colleagues’ palpable fear, Dr. King penned these words that not only continue to resonate in 2023, but also should cause us to remember that: “The ultimate measure of a [person] is not where [they] stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [they] stand at times of challenge and controversy.”Strength to Love, 1963.

We must act by constantly exploring and employing strategies to eradicate systemic discrimination and barriers to equal employment opportunity and access. The occurrence of overt bigotry and injustices in recent years have sparked a renewed sense of unity, commitment, and a call-for-action in our Nation. There is no better time than the present to lead the charge of closing the gaps of racial disparities and inequities. I am proud that the NIH and EDI are at the forefront of making a difference through NIH-wide initiatives such as the EDI Engagement Committee, UNITE, and the Employee Resource Groups, as well as numerous efforts being led by the Institutes and Centers.

EDI’s mission is to identify and remove any barriers to equal employment opportunity by creating a culture of inclusion where diverse talent is leveraged to advance health discovery throughout the communities we serve. Our goal is to foster more equitable representation by strengthening NIH’s efforts in targeted outreach and recruitment, hiring, training and development, promotion, and retention of talent.

Learn more about the work we are doing by visiting: EDI's 2022 MLK webpage or by following EDI on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Kevin D. Williams, Esq.
EDI Director

Ways to Remember. Act. Serve.

MLK Day of Service was first observed in 1986 and in 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act. This federal holiday honors the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a day of service celebrating the life of the famous civil rights leader.

MLK Day is a defining moment each year when Americans across the country step up to make our communities more equitable and take action to create the Beloved Community of Dr. King's dream.

Here are some ways you can act and serve your local NIH Community:

Volunteer by participating in Clinical Trials as a healthy volunteer

Volunteer by helping out at the NIH Clinical Center Volunteer Services.

NIH Blood Bank

  • The NIH Blood Bank depends on people like you to donate blood for patients in the Clinical Center. We are conveniently located on the first floor of Building 10, with reserved parking available while you donate.
  • To schedule a donation, please call (301) 496-1048 or e-mail to request that a recruiter contact you.
Photo collage of Kiana Atkins visiting the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

“The Time Is Now – Remember. Act. Serve.”
This campaign seeks to rally the NIH community to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and his fight for equality and civil rights.

Photo of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

This memorial is the first to honor an African American individual on the National Mall. The space is a place to contemplate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy: a nonviolent philosophy striving for freedom, justice, and equality. The memorial is open 24 hours a day and there is no fee to visit.

Featured Blog

Photo of two volunteers at a food kitchen


46th Annual MLK Day Parade

Monday, January 16, 2023 | 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. EDT

Description: A signature event that is part of the national registry of MLK Holiday celebrations honoring Dr. King’s dream for unity, freedom, social and economic equality, justice and sustainability, our parade is the oldest and largest celebration in the U.S., boasting a record 500,000 in attendance.

Location: Liberty City route running from NW 54th St and 10th Ave. to 32nd Ave.

The parade follows 8 miles of sacred ground that Dr. King once traveled during his frequent engagements in Miami.

51st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration

Monday, January 16, 2023 | 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m EDT

Description: Join the City of Rockville for the 51st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration. This free event features performances, awards, a keynote speaker, interactive booths and a continental breakfast (while supplies last).

Location: Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Drive, Rockville, MD 20852

Diverse group of demonstrators holding cardboard signs

If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. If I cannot do great things I can do small things in a great way.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.