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Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Updated for 2022

In the United States, the third Monday of January is known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – a day to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. (Dr. King was born on January 15th, 1929.) This federal holiday is also the only national holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer in their communities. 

Here are a number of ways to celebrate MLK Day, and incorporate Dr. King’s lessons and legacy, into every day.

MLK Day celebration at the California African American Museum
Photo courtesy of California African American Museum. Photo by HRDWRKER

Things to do to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

10th Annual MLK Day NEW Clothing Collection & Community Breakfast
Big Sunday 
6111 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

Big Sunday is hosting its 10th Annual MLK Day NEW Clothing Collection & Community Breakfast on Monday, January 17th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Donations of new clothing items will be collected. In addition, this block party-like event will feature arts and crafts projects to benefit local nonprofits, entertainment, a Civil Rights exhibit, and much more. There are many ways to help including sponsoring a clothing bag, purchasing items from Big Sunday’s wishlist, and more. All activities will be held outside, and breakfast will include individually wrapped food. RSVP and details are available online. 

King Day 2022
California African American Museum 
Exposition Park
600 State Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037

The California African American Museum invites families to its Kind Day 2022 special event happening on Monday, January 17th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. “Enjoy open galleries and special programs offered throughout the day, including a King family story time with the Los Angeles Public Library, a King speech study group, and a performance by members of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA), the largest majority African American orchestra in America.” Weather permitting, events will be held outside. RSVP online for this free event.

History Alive! Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: The Last Five Years – Virtual Event

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is hosting a special event to honor Dr. King on Monday, January 17th from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST. This virtual event features “living history interpreter John W. McCaskill as he chronicles the last five years of King’s life and shares other stories of the individuals who fought to end racial segregation and discrimination in the United States.” This is a free event, and no registration is required. 

Long Beach MLK Day of Service

The City of Long Beach invites families to participate in the 12th Annual MLK Day of Celebration and Service. This year’s Day of Service will feature “opportunities to participate in person, as well as remote opportunities.” Check the website for more details as they become available. 

MLK Day of Service

On Monday, January 17, 2022, families are invited to join the L.A. Works MLK Day of Service. Both in-person and virtual activities are planned including a Virtual Minecraft March on Washington, an in-person school beautification team, and more. “As we work to heal from the pandemic and its devastating impact on our community, the focus of this year’s Martin Luther King Day of Service is to combat one of the critical issues that has surfaced – education equity and the academic achievement gap.” Details are available online. 

37th Annual Kingdom Day Parade
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

The 37th Annual Kingdom Day Parade is scheduled for Monday, January 17th, 2022 at 11:00 am; however, be sure to check the website for the most up-to-date details on the event. The parade’s theme is “Healing America.” The parade (a televised event) features marching bands, community groups, local politicians, and more. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Day Peace March at Tom Bradley Elementary School
Dr. Martin Luther King Day Peace March at Tom Bradley Elementary School in 2019 (used with permission)

Kids March for Equality 2022
NW corner Sepulveda and La Tiejera Blvd., Westminster, CA

The Kids March for Equality 2022 is scheduled for Monday, January 17th from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Children of all ages are encouraged to participate in this special event to “celebrate diversity and promote equality.” 

City of Inglewood 39th Annual King Fest Celebration
The Forum
3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90305

The City of Inglewood 39th Annual King Fest Celebration is happening on Monday, January 17th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The festivities include a a parade, live entertainment, food, arts and crafts, interactive games, vendors, and more. Register online for this free event. 

Annual MLK Holiday Concert
John Adams Middle School Performing Arts Center
1630 Pearl St., Santa Monica, CA 90405

The Santa Monica Symphony is performing their Annual MLK Holiday Concert on Saturday, January 15th at 2:00 pm. “Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” with a special concert which also features the “traditional sing-along of the civil rights anthem ‘We Shall Overcome’.” The concert is free, but pre-registration is required due to limited seating. 

I Have a Dream
Alma Reaves Woods – Watts Branch Library
10205 Compton Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90002

On Tuesday, January 11th at 4:25 pm, the Alma Reaves Woods – Watts Branch Library invites families to stop by for a special art activity. “Let’s make dream journals in preparation for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.” 

MLK Jr. Celebration: Erasing Racism
Culver City Senior Center – Outdoor Patio
4085 Overland Ave., Culver City, CA 90232

The City of Culver City invites families to its MLK Jr. Celebration: Erasing Racism event happening on Saturday, January 15th from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The program features a welcome from Culver City Mayor Dr. Daniel Lee, musical performances including traditional African American spirituals, actor Gerald C. Rivers performing a collection of Dr. King’s speeches, and more. No RSVP necessary.

Free Entrance Day – National Park System
Multiple locations

To celebrate the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. the National Park Service will waive entrance fees on Monday, January 17th. In addition, “it is also a day of service when hundreds of volunteers participate in service projects at parks across the country.” You can check the website to find volunteer opportunities. 

Happy MLK Day illustration
Watercolor iIllustration of Martin Luther King, Jr. to celebrate MLK day.

To Listen in Honor of MLK

Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” Song

Many people may not know that musician Stevie Wonder worked tirelessly to help recognize Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. This upbeat song features lyrics written as a tribute to Dr. King. 

To Watch to Celebrate MLK

Our Friend, Martin is “an adventure inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.” This time-traveling adventure takes two middle school friends back in time to learn about, and meet, Dr. King. The film is a mix of documentary footage and animation and is recommended for children 8 and older. 

For older kids, watch the 2014 film Selma featuring David Oyelowo as Dr. King. The movie is a powerful depiction of Dr. King’s “campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.”

Books To Read in Honor of MLK

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport. This popular picture book uses some of the words from Dr. King’s speeches to help tell his life story.

Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bonnie Bader. The popular “Who Was” series has a biography of Dr. King’s life, including his early years, his nonviolent protests, all accompanied by 80 black-and-white illustrations.

National Geographic Kids: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kitson Jazynka. This book is often found in classroom libraries. In addition to text, the book features timetables, diagrams, sidebars all designed to keep readers interested and engaged.

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr: A Biography Book for New Readers by Christine Platt. This book features bold illustrations and tells the story of Dr. King’s life, explaining the steps he took to make his dream a reality.

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr by David A. Adler. Many parents and teachers are familiar with this series of biographies which serve as great introductions to famous individuals throughout history.

Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford. This book is written as a “dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him.” 

I Have a Dream (Book and CD) by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Families can listen to Dr. King’s famous speech on an audio CD as they look at the book featuring realistic paintings. 

Show Me History: Martin Luther King Jr.: Voice for Equality! by James Buckley Jr. This book, part of the Show Me History series, tells the story of Dr. King’s life as a graphic novel. Full-color illustrations may entice more reluctant readers.  

To Learn More About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The King Center

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (also known as The King Center) was established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The website has lots of information regarding days of special programming scheduled to commemorate The King Holiday Observance 2022. Virtual events begin on Monday, January 10th and continue through Monday, January 17th. In addition, the National Park Service offers resources to virtually explore the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta which you can access by clicking here

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC is a part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.  Online, you’ll find photos and videos related to the memorial as well as more facts about the design and construction of the Memorial. 

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

Martin Luther King JR day sign blue background illustration

Disclaimer: MomsLA has made every effort to confirm the information in this article; however, things can often change. Therefore, MomsLA makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy of the information published here. MomsLA strongly urges you to confirm any event details, like date, time, location, and admission, with the third party hosting the event. You assume the sole risk of relying on any of the information in our list. MomsLA is in no way responsible for any injuries or damages you sustain while attending any third-party event posted on our website. Please read our Terms of Use which you have agreed to based on your continued use of this website. Some events have paid to be listed on MomsLA.

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