When then-President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that resulted in a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many worried the day would become like so many others on the American calendar each year, lost among the barbecues and retails sales.
But for many, the day has become a day or service, and one to give back to the community.
At Roosevelt High School in East L.A., volunteers came out Monday to scrub down the school, give it a fresh coat of paint and tend to its community garden.
Local news from across Southern California
"Its a day of service to help beautify our campus," one student said.
It was all being done in the name of the man whose memory is one of motivation for the volunteers.
"And I want my son to know this is part of his life, this is part of his future, that we give back to the community,” said Nicollette Morales, who volunteered at the Roosevelt.
At Diego Rivera Learning Complex at E. 61st Street and Central Avenue, hundreds turned out to festoon the campus with trademarks of higher education intended to beautify and inspire.
And at the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, volunteers focused on a theme of diversity in honor of the day, from handing out Afghan pine trees to learning the art of Italian winemaking.
"We really wanted to think more broadly about his message and mission this year," said Brooke Applegate, Kids Space Education Coordinator at the school.
All, each said, part of the joy of connecting.
Kirsten Browning, Kids-space volunteer "And to remember where we came from and exactly what kind of progress we want to be making,” said Kidspace volunteer Kirsten Browning.