Why Does BJU Observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

by   |     |   president@bju.edu   |  
Martin Luther King Jr. Day outreach

On January 21, Bob Jones University will honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday by canceling classes and closing our offices. This holiday was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan and first observed in January 1986. It is now observed by all 50 states. As American citizens and as a University family, we are proud to continue to celebrate this day for two reasons.

It’s a Day of Remembrance.

The history of the United States has some shameful chapters. One of those is the slavery of an entire people group for well over 200 years that led in part to a national civil war at the cost of over 600,000 lives.

That history was followed by laws that segregated the very people who were emancipated from slavery from the rest of American society. Beginning in the 1960s, the civil rights movement fought to end the curse of racial segregation and outlaw discrimination. In 1964 this law was enacted. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a key leader in the civil rights movement and gave his life for the cause.

So, why honor MLK Jr. Day? Would we ever want to go back to the days of slavery or segregation as a nation or as Christian people? No. Therefore, we stand for the basic civil rights proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in our U.S. Constitution and support this special day of remembrance.

It’s a Day of Service.

Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” While many see this as a “day off,” we see it as a “day on.” It’s an opportunity to devote time to serve your community with a spirit of service towards your fellow human beings. This is continuing the legacy of Dr. King who spent his life working to better the lives of others.

President George H. W. Bush once said, “Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” President Bush recognized the importance of this day when he signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission Extension Act in 1989. In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating MLK Day as a national day of service.

As citizens of the greater Greenville community and South Carolina, we are thankful we have the opportunity to continue to volunteer on this national day of service through construction/demolition, cleaning, organizing, cooking, meal delivery and more at locations like Meals on Wheels, the Phillis Wheatley Center, Home Works of America, the Juvenile Detention Center, Greer Relief and several Miracle Hill Ministries.

So, join me in remembering and honoring the sacrifices of Dr. King by serving your community on this special day.


Steve Pettit traveled for many years with the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team before becoming president of Bob Jones University. His ultimate goal for BJU is to prepare students to serve and love others, no matter their vocation.