MLK Celebration

Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Jan. 18, 2021

Civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga. King would become a world-renowned civil rights leader in the 1950s and 1960s. His leadership, activism and belief in civil disobedience led him to organize marches and protests for Black Americans’ civil rights. He used and promoted nonviolent resistance as a tool to dismantle segregation and Jim Crow laws in the southern United States. A renowned organizer and public speaker, King was a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He also earned a degree in divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, a doctoral degree from Boston University, several honorary degrees, and at 35 was the youngest man to be awarded with the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Just four years later, King was assassinated in an effort to thwart the Civil Rights Movement. King’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1983 and eventually all 50 states made it a state government holiday by 2000. It has been coined a day of service to honor King’s legacy and beliefs in community and equality. For more information on Martin Luther King Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King, his family and his legacy visit The King Center.

Art Institute Chicago

King Day Virtual Performance: Rebirth Poetry Ensemble and In the Spirit
Jan. 18, 2021 • 5-6 p.m.
Event Cost: Free, registration required.

As part of the Art Institute’s King Day celebrations, join Rebirth Poetry Ensemble and the performance duo In the Spirit, featuring Zahra Baker and Emily Hooper Lansana. Youth poets from the Rebirth Poetry Ensemble have been performing at the annual King Day festival for several years and this year they’ve created spoken-word pieces in response to the exhibition Bisa Butler: Portraits. In the Spirit, too, is returning to perform for King Day, bringing to life Butler’s quilts and the legacy of Dr. King, through original stories, woven together with rhythm and song.

DuSable Museum of African American History

BBC Interview with Martin Luther King Jr.
Watch John Freeman’s BBC interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 1961. The reshowing of the 30-minute video is part of the DuSable Museum’s Lunch and Learn Series.
When: Anytime

Museum of Science and Industry

Black Creativity Family Day
Black Creativity 2021 kicks off with Family Day on Monday, Jan. 18. Families can participate in a virtual Innovation Studio, explore the Juried Art Exhibition and see the anniversary exhibit Black Creativity: 50 Years.

Hyde Park Art Center

Gamechangers & Name Changers: A Virtual MLK Day Celebration

Through film screenings, conversations and presentations about movements close to home in Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center has created a program that celebrates local artists, activists and makers who embody the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and the spirit of justice and visibility.

Date and Time: Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, Noon-4 p.m.

Event Schedule:
Noon-1 p.m. – Paige Taul Shorts Screening & Artist Q&A
1:30-2 p.m. – “Change The Name” Presentation with Village Leadership Academy Youth
2-3 p.m. – The Mural Renaissance In Chicago
3-4 p.m. – Black Lives Past & Present: Where Do We Intersect?

Event Cost: Free

African American History and Culture Museum, Washington, D.C.

The People's Holiday

Date and Time: Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, 4-5:30 p.m.
Event Type: Celebrations, performances, webcasts and online.
Event Cost: Free, registration recommended.

About this Event

"NMAAHC’s annual community program titled A People’s Holiday features six-time Grammy-Award-winning bassist, composer and educator Christian McBride in a digital performance inspired by his social justice-focused album titled, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons. The 45-minute concert of jazz and poetry will feature performances of students from The Julliard School and a poetry reading by award-winning poet Evie Shockley. Civil rights activist, poet and scholar Sonia Sanchez will bring greetings to honor the day. The concert will conclude with a conversation with Christian McBride moderated by Dwandalyn Reece, associate director of Curatorial Affairs. This concert honors Dr. King’s commitment to racial quality, justice and service.

The People's Holiday has been generously supported by The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.


How can I celebrate MLK Day?

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service and Americans are encouraged to spend this day volunteering to improve their communities.

Here are some ways you can participate:

  1. Learn about and discuss Dr. King’s life and teachings. The King Institute's Liberation Curriculum is a great place to get started.
  2. Volunteer in your community. Protect existing civil rights. Consider donating to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to help them defend and promote voting rights, educational equality, economic justice and more of Dr. King’s service, use this tool from CNCS to find opportunities to help out in your community.
  3. Lead your own service project. These resources from Youth Service America will help you plan and organize a project that’s meaningful to you.
  4. Educate yourself on systemic barriers to mobility. Read about the racial wealth and income gap in the U.S. and the 12 key federal policies that have contributed to it.
  5. Combat discrimination in lending (redlining). With this guide from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, tell your reps to strengthen laws that protect low-income communities – not weaken them.
  6. Protect existing civil rights. Consider donating to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to help them defend and promote voting rights, educational equality, economic justice and more.