Each year, our country celebrates the life and legacy off Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the ways in which he lived his own life, and in service to our community. It has been fifty years since Dr. King published his fourth, and final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, and yet its theme of hope seems more relevant than ever today. This weekend, our country will celebrate in song and dance, in conversation and service. Visit places where he shared his dream, and spread his message in universities, churches, parks, and community centers. Here are 12 ways to celebrate the holiday this year:

12. WNYC Annual MLK Day Celebration at the Apollo Theater

martin-luther-king-1964-untapped-cities-afinelyneMartin Luther King, Jr.  Image via Library of Congress

For the 11th year, and in celebration of the 50th year of Dr. King’s book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, WNYC and the Apollo Theater present the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, Where Do We Go From Here? MLK and the Future of InclusionModerated by Brian Lehrer, featured speakers will include Rabbi Ben Kamin, Elie Mystal, Joshua Lawrence Lazard, Opal Tometi, Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr., L. Joy Williams, Shaun King, and Tamika Malloy. Expect an open and honest conversation forecasting the post-Obama era, the future of social justice movements, and the challenges of our next President. Performances by Staceyann Chinn, Talib Kweli, and Marcela Davies-Lashley. The two-hour event will take place on Sunday, January 15. It is free to the public, and located at the Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street.

WNYC is also hosting a related event, Dear President: What You Need to Know About Race, on Thursday, January 26 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and on Saturday, January 28 at Newark Public Library, Centennial Hall.

11. Activist New York at Museum of the City of New York

View of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing a crowd gathered outside the United Nations following a march from Central Park on April 15, 1967. In his speech, Dr. King decried the Vietnam War as a racist war. Image via MCNY.

The Museum of the City of New York is hosting a special day that will celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with performances by The New York City Gospel Choir, a family program dedicated to the activist legacy left behind by several civil rights heroes including the great man himself, and a display called Saving Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life in Harlem. You can also create your own protest poster to inspire change for an issue that you wish to see improve. This programming accompanies Activist New York, an exhibit that covers 350 years on the fight for freedom and quality in New York City. While there, do also check out the other outstanding exhibits at the museum right now: New York At its Core: 400 Years of NYC History, Mastering the Metropolis New York and Zoning: 1916 – 2016, Gay Gotham and more.

10. Brooklyn Academy of Music Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

For the 31st Year, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, present a Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event brings together civic leaders, musicians, poets, performers, and intellectuals. This year’s keynote speaker will be Opal Tometi, racial justice and immigrant rights activist, and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter.  Performances by Institutional Radio Choir and The Campbell Brothers. The free event will be held on Monday, January 16. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-seated basis starting at 8am in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House lobby, located at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn.

9.  A Shared Dream Concert at Brooklyn College

For the 13th year, A Shared Dream Foundation presents its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert. This is a free concert in word and song, to be held on Monday, January 16 from 5:30-8:00 pm. The concert will be located at Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, in the Walt Whitman Auditorium.

8. Dance Theatre of Harlem at Queens College

Using the language of ballet to celebrate African-American culture, the Dance Theatre of Harlem present a special Martin Luther King, Jr. performance on Sunday, January 15 at 4 pm at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, in the Golden Auditorium. Tickets are $35. In addition, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will also be performing at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Saturday, January 14.

7.  Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. at Wave Hill

Wave Hill, a historic villa in the Bronx, will be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday with two days of activities beginning on Sunday, January 15. Family Art Project: A Hand in Freedom conveys an artistic message of justice and freedom in creative ways, using muslin, cloth, yarn and felt. Family Art Project: A Hand in Freedom is free with admission to the grounds. On Sunday, January 15, a concert entitled I go on Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in Song, honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The concert will be held at 2 pm. Ticket prices: Adults $28/$22, Wave Hill members and children $15/$12. Wave Hill is located at 649 West 249th Street in the Bronx.

6.  Food Bank for NYC’s 2017 MLK Weekend of Service

The Food Bank for New York City will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy with a weekend of service for the 4th consecutive year. This year, volunteers will be busy with a mass renovation of Bright Temple Church in Hunts Point in the Bronx, creating a functional soup kitchen. The project will take place from Friday, January 13 through Monday, January 16th. As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve.” Volunteers are needed.

5.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Are you looking for a way to celebrate MLK Day this year by volunteering? Here is where you will find an opportunity to suit you. In addition, you can use this site to volunteer throughout the year, or join AmeriCorps or Senior Corps. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Legacy of Service is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, The King Center, and MLKDay.gov.

4.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in NYC Parks


The New York City Parks Department Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service will be held at Idlewild Park in Brooklyn. Volunteers will be removing debris from the wetlands, and removing invasive vegetation. The event runs from 10 am to 1 pm, and is located at 225th Street in Idlewild Park, Queens. Many other parks have volunteer opportunities during the weekend of January 14-15. In addition, year-round opportunities to volunteer are available by visiting Partnerships for Parks.

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend at Riverside Church

Riverside Church was the site of Dr. King’s famous 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”  In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, Riverside Church will include an interfaith service on Sunday, January 15th at 6 pm, by the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council. On Monday, January 16, Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) will host its second annual MLK NOW event to celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with speeches and performances. The event will take place from 2-6 pm. Riverside Church is located at 490 Riverside Drive.

2. Screening of ‘The Negro and the American Promise’

museum-of-the-moving-image-astoria-kaufman-studios-queens-nycPhoto by Peter Aaron/Esto. Courtesy of the Museum of Moving Image

The Museum of Moving Image in Astoria will hold a screening of The Negro and the American Promise on Monday, January 16 at 3:00 p.m. The hour-long special, which features interviews with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin, originally aired on public television in June 1963, months before Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Purchase tickets ($15 for adults, $7 for kids) here.

1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast and Basketball Classic

The New York Urban League Young Professionals is hosting a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a breakfast and basketball classic. The event will take place at the Lt JP Kennedy Community Center, 34 West 134th Street on Monday, January 16 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The event is in collaboration with NYULYP and AJC Access.

We leave you with this quote: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” MLK

Look back at an attack on Dr. King in New York City in 1958. Explore vintage photos of Dr. King in New York City in 1964.  Did you know that San Francisco is home to the second largest MLK Memorial. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.