THE Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission wants to change the way people think.
Ten years after Dr. King's birthday became a federal holiday, the commission is encouraging people to observe the holiday, the third Monday in January, by performing community service. The commission hopes that by getting people to try service for a day, they will become involved year-round.
The good news, says commission member William Darnell, is that the holiday is recognized in every state but New Hampshire. "But there's a difference between being recognized and being observed," says Mr. Darnell, a producer from New York. "Ninety-nine percent of the people perceive it as a black holiday, but that's not what it was designed for.... Performing community service is to observe one of Dr. King's strongest ideals..."
Speaking Friday to the sixth annual "I Have A Dream" National Youth Assembly, King's widow, Coretta Scott King, urged those gathered to "get involved in your schools, organizations, and in your communities. Help us to make it an all-American event in which every citizen participates."
The commission's strategy is to launch a media blitz in the weeks leading up to the holiday in January 1994, with donated advertising space in newspapers and time on television.