Philadelphia: the reigning champ of MLK day in Pa. | The Numbers Racket

By: - January 20, 2020 6:30 am

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial ( Photo from the National Park Service)

In the spirit of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, we put ourselves to work to crunch some MLK Day numbers. 

The holiday that falls on the third Monday in January was first celebrated on Jan. 20, 1986 after King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and musician Stevie Wonder petitioned more than 6 million people to get then-President Ronald Reagan to sign off (signed in 1983) on making MLK day a federal holiday.

Fast figures

900 … the number of streets nationally named for Dr. King

5 … the number of streets in Pennsylvania named for Dr. King

33 … the number of years since the first MLK day

Dates of note

Jan. 15, 1929 – Dr. King’s birthday.

April 8, 1968 – the first bill to make MLK day a federal holiday is introduced by the late U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan.

Nov. 3, 1983 – then-President Ronald Reagan signs legislation creating the national holiday.  

Aug. 23, 1994 – the day of service tagline is added to the holiday by former President Bill Clinton.

Philadelphia earns its name

The City of Brotherly Love has historically laid out some impressive numbers on MLK day with the number of volunteers charting  in the six-figure range.

In 1996, 1,000 volunteers gathered in Philadelphia to start the national King Day of Service movement. According to the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, more than 150,000 volunteers contributed to over 1,800 projects across the region last year.

This year, the organization celebrates its 25th annual day of service with some incredible statistics.

320,000 … the number of service hours performed in 2019 by volunteers.

$8 million … the total dollar value of the work completed at last year’s event.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.