BUTTE, Mont. - Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been a national holiday since 1983, although it took until 2000 for all 50 states to recognize the holiday. It is a day of remembrance and community service. Butte schools used the holiday to teach students why the day is so important.
King was a civil rights leader, minister and activist. He preached freedom for everyone no matter the color of their skin.
"He wanted to bring peace to the world and that white and black could get along," said Emerson Elementary School second grader Danika Carr. "He had a dream to stop the wars and the violence of black and whites."
It's a history that Butte social studies teacher John Stenson thinks everyone should learn about.
"I think a lot of kids don't understand the full impact of Martin Luther King and what he did, sacrifices he made, even that time period in the 1960s, so I think it's great the more they learn about things like this," Stenson said.
Some East Middle School students did community service projects at the Butte Food Bank to celebrate the holiday. They scooped up pounds of raw pasta shells and put it in bags for boxes that will go to community members in need. The students made over 600 bags of pasta Monday.
The Butte Food Bank helps 750 households each month. That's about 2,600 individuals per month.
East Middle School stepped outside the classroom and used community service to teach students about civil rights and equality. Other schools like Emerson Elementary School had volunteers read stories about Martin Luther King, Jr. to teach them about the historical man and his movement.
"I don't know that much about it," said Carly Shea, a seventh grader at East Middle School. "I just know that he wanted things to be fair between everyone."
"He got people to get along and not like back in the day when people were so mean and the law was so different and he made the world a way better place," Carr told NBC Montana.
AmeriCorps volunteers and Montana Tech students read "My Uncle Martin's Big Heart" to students at Emerson Elementary.
"We're all still human beings, we're all still humans, (it) doesn't matter if we have different skins, we're all still humans," said Emerson Elementary School second grader Kieran Burt.
East Middle School students also made care packages Monday for troops and local first responders. Other students helped at the Butte Animal Shelter as part of the community service day.