Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday celebrated each year on the third Monday of January.  The celebration honors the birth, life, and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only national holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. To support this effort, schools, libraries, and most federal/state offices will be closed.

A time to remember the injustices against which King fought, the day is also a time to remember his fight for freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples through nonviolence.  Martin Luther King Jr. spent his time helping to define and create this culture, a person can see this fabric in Argonne’s core values of Impact, Respect, Integrity, and Teamwork.

History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

King was a clergyman and civil-rights leader.  He became minister of the Dexter Ave. Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954 and led the boycott of segregated city bus lines in 1956. King gained a major victory as a civil-rights leader when Montgomery buses began to desegregate.

King organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which provided a foundation to pursue additional civil-rights activities in the South and later nationwide.  King’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance resulted in numerous arrests in the 1950s and 60s. A 1963 protest in Birmingham, Alabama earned him worldwide attention.

In August of 1963, King brought together more than 200,000 people on the March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  In 1964, at the age of 35, King was the youngest man, and only the third Black man, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Famous quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 “People should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

 “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

As King’s notoriety grew, so did his interests in openly criticizing the Vietnam War and speaking out about

On April 4, 1968, Dr. the conditions of those living in poverty.  A planned Poor People’s March to Washington in 1968 was paused in order to support striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

King was shot and killed as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

Almost immediately after his death, calls for a national holiday in his honor began.  Beginning in 1970, several states and cities made his birthday, January 15, a holiday.  Congressman John Conyers and Senator Edward Brooke introduced legislation to establish a federal holiday in his name in the face of fierce racial and political opposition.

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law and the holiday was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is usually celebrated with marches and parades and with speeches by civil rights and political leaders.  Individuals and organizations also undertake volunteer efforts in support of what is often called the MLK Day of Service.

The Argonne African American Employee Resource Group encourages everyone to participate in this day of service for the betterment of their communities.

(Photo: KNWA)

By Scott A. Ehling, CELS – Project Manager, Strategic Initiatives

Kwanzaa Celebration of Family and Culture

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a week-long (December 26 – January 1) African American holiday to celebrate family, community, and culture. Dr. Maulana Karenga Professor of PAN-African Studies at California State Long Beach, CA, founded the Kwanzaa celebration in 1966, in the aftermath of the Watts Riots Black Freedom Movements.

The name Kwanzaa is derived from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” (harvest). Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their religion or religious holidays but to reaffirm and restore our African culture’s rootedness. Most Kwanzaa celebrations are based on the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) and seven symbols. Every day of the celebration, the family lights one candle and focuses on one of the principles in conjunction with one of the symbols.

The Seven Principles:

  • Unity (Umoja): Striving for and maintaining unity in the family and the community
  • Self-Determination (Kujichagulia): Defining oneself and speaking for oneself
  • Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima): Building and maintaining a community and making our brother’s and sister’s problems our own and solve them together
  • Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa): Building and maintaining our businesses for ourselves and each other
  • Purpose (Nia): To build and develop our collective communities together
  • Creativity (Kuumba): To do whatever we can to leave our communities more beautiful than when we inherited them
  • Faith (Imani): To believe with our hearts in our people, our families, and the righteousness of our struggle
(image courtesy of*/happy-kwanzaa-2020-template-design)


The Seven Symbols:

Kwanzaa celebrations usually include a special mat called a mkeka in which all the other symbols are placed. On this mat are placed a candle holder called a kinara, seven candles which are collectively called Mishumaa Saba, mazao (fruits, nuts, and vegetables), a unity cup called Kikombe cha Umoja, an ear of corn called vibunzi and zawadi or gifts. (



Why is Kwanzaa important? 

As I began to learn more about celebrating Kwanzaa for this AAA-ERG Blog post, I continued to ask myself this very question.

The phrase “cultural connectedness” is the quality and quantity of a person’s connection to others that is at the heart of the Kwanzaa celebration. If you want to make positive changes in a community or even a diverse workplace like Argonne, it starts with ensuring your culture aligns with your values.

Kwanzaa’s seven principles and Argonne’s Core Values share the commitment to building a culture of collaboration, integrity, creativity, and making a positive impact on common goals. In addition, the guiding principles of Kwanzaa emphasize the value of the relationship for how family unity is a bridge for stronger communities which leads to developing a positive and fruitful culture of togetherness.

For more information about Kwanzaa:



AAA-ERG welcomes Argonne’s first Walter Massey Fellow

Join the Argonne African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG) on December 10 at 11:00 am as we welcome Argonne’s first Walter Massey Fellow, Kevin Brown!

Paul Kearns and former laboratory director Walter Massey (1979-1984) will join us as we hear from Kevin Brown about the research that garnered him this prestigious honor and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Walter Massey Fellowship is named for the first African-American to serve as Argonne’s director. Massey  also went on to serve as director of the National Science Foundation. He has also been president of Morehouse College — his alma mater — as well as chairman of Bank of America and president and chancellor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The idea for the Walter Massey Fellowship originated in the AAA-ERG, and is an example of the many ways that the Laboratory has partnered with its employee resource groups to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at the lab.

Please join us for a special conversation welcoming Argonne’s first Walter Massey Fellow.

To join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android click this URL to join:


To dial in by phone:

(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

  • +1 669 254 5252
  • +1 646 828 7666
  • +1 669 216 1590
  • +1 551 285 1373


Webinar ID: 160 296 1308

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Gourmet’s Delight Cheesecakes Are Back!

The Argonne African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG) is holding a cheesecake sale to raise money for the AAA-ERG Scholarship Fund. Proceeds from this needs-based scholarship go to top local high school students entering college and pursuing STEM degrees.

Gourmet’s Delight Cheesecakes are handmade and come in 14 flavors that measure nine inches in diameter and are pre-sliced into 14 restaurant-size portions. It’s a perfect holiday dessert to share with family or enjoy alone whenever you want a delicious treat.

Cheesecakes are delivered frozen and should be refrigerated (40° F) or frozen within six hours of delivery. Cheesecakes last up to six months in the freezer. Buy some to eat now, freeze some to eat later.

The assortment of cheesecakes is available for sale now through Thursday, October 21st. Payment: Cash, Check, Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App) payment is also due by October 21st.



Pickup/Delivery will on Friday, October 29, 2021 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. location APS 402 Auditorium .

See any one of the following AAA-ERG members to place your order or visit the  to download a brochure and order form for cheesecake selections and pricing.  If you would like to participate in selling cheesecakes please let us know and we can provide you with sales brochures and order forms.


Justin H. S. Breaux
Arista Thurman, III
Scott Ehling
Robyn Wheeler Grange


AAA-ERG Mission

The Argonne African American Employee Resource Group (AAA-ERG) partners with laboratory leadership to promote the development of African Americans in science, technology, and operations. Through engagement, mentorship, and programming that promotes cultural awareness and communication among the workforce, the AAA-ERG supports a world-class workplace to make a positive impact on the community.



Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and it identifies the date June 19,1865 that Union Troops led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of the Civil War and abolition of slavery.

The Civil War ended April 9, 1865.

The Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in confederate states was signed by President Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863.

The 13th Amendment abolished Slavery in all the states, December 6, 1865

All of these dates were relevant in the freedom of African Americans from slavery, but June 19th is the one that is celebrated because it was the day that freedom reached those slaves in the most southern confederate state Texas; that were still in bondage even though they had been declared free almost two and a half years earlier by President Lincoln’s Proclamation.

We can celebrate Juneteenth and demonstrate Argonne’s Core Values of RESPECT for our African American coworkers; IMPACT on the relationships between African Americans and other ethnic groups; and INTEGRITY as we recognize how we can and should get along with one another.