MLK Day 2014 marks 60th anniv. of the end of segregation

It’s been more than 60 years since Oliver Brown stormed out of Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas and blazed the trail for racial integration in schools throughout the U.S.

That’s one reason the mayor and Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service Founder Todd Bernstein are excited about this year’s event, slated for Jan. 20 at Girard College.

Find service opportunities for MLK Day.

Because this year marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, equality is a special focus featured in a series of canvas murals designed by students from six area schools. The murals, created under the auspices of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, will be on display Jan. 20 at Girard College.

“On the King holiday, we are always reminded of the impact that one individual can have on the world during times of great challenge,” said William Hite, Jr., superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

“For me, it identifies the significance of much of what happened – everything from the Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters to all of the other firsts and acknowledgments that must go out to all of you.”

Hite addressed more than 200 people today at Girard College during the announcement of the 2014 MLK Day. More than 125,000 volunteers are expected to participate this year – a record number – at the oldest and largest MLK Day event from coast to coast, according to the event organizers.

“Each year this continues to grow, and I believe that we must all come together to solve our city’s many challenges, because we certainly know that the government cannot do it all alone,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

“We’re still fighting for educational equality here in the City of Philadelphia, and we’re not going to settle for adequate school funding. We should have superior school funding for very school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So, this is still a civil rights struggle for all of us.”

On Jan. 20, the hundreds of volunteers will assemble, sort and pack donated school supplies, computers, classroom and library books to be distributed among Philadelphia’s most underserved schools.