Of course, you can attend a local parade today.
However, there are also concerts, special movie screenings, prayer services and many other volunteer efforts to join so you can add an educational, service and even spiritual element to however you’re planning to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.
If you’re looking for ways to make today more than just a day off work, we’ve compiled a list of some of what’s happening in 13 major markets.
If you’re in the Peachtree city, you can attend the King Holiday March and Rally. The march is held on Auburn Avenue from Peachtree Street to Jackson Street while the rally is held on Auburn Avenue in the King National Park Area. The areas of concern are education, technology, medical, investment, transportation, housing environmental justice, job creation, conflict resolution, interfaith, cultural exchange, peace, justice and voter registration. 1:15 p.m. Jan. 16. Sweet Auburn District, Auburn Ave N.E., Atlanta. 404-614-3233. In addition, poet Nikki Giovanni will speak and do a free book signing at 2 p.m., as part of Kennesaw State University’s annual MLK Day event at the Bailey Performance Center, 1000 Chastain Road N.W, Kennesaw. 770-423-6650. Visit the official King Week at Emory website for a full list of the school’s King Week activities.
In the Birmingham area, locals can attend the Wreath Laying Ceremony at Dr. King’s Statue at Kelly Ingram Park at 10 a.m. There’s a Martin Luther King Day Parade in Montevallo that starts at 11 a.m. at Montevallo City Hall and will end at Shiloh Baptist Church. Homeless and senior citizens can visit Boutwell Auditorium for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Love Feast at 2:30 p.m. Plus, folks in the area can participate in Hands on Birmingham’s 12th annual MLK Day of Service.Over 35 projects take place around the city from clean-ups, socializing with the elderly, and more. Various locations and times. And there’s free admission all day from 9 to 5 p.m. at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute located at 520 16th Street North.
Since King was a former Boston University student, the school will hold its annual remembrance ceremony commemorating his birthday. The event, titled “Manifest Our Destiny,” routinely draws more than 1,000 people from the area. This year’s ceremony will explore “how one person’s passion can transform the world” and will include a lineup of speakers and a jazz performance from BU students. The celebration, which will be broadcast live using BU’s channel on UStream, is open to the public, and will take place at 1 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom.
If you’re in the Windy City, Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet is offering an African dance class in commemoration of the holiday and the Bronzeville Children’s Museum in Chicago will have a program featuring crafts. Plus, Chicagoans can get up to speed on the “Rev. Martin Luther King’s pacifist principles” by taking a free daylong course (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) taught by certified Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies members. For more information, visit evanstonhistorycenter.org. Evanston History Center, Charles Gates Dawes House, 225 Greenwood St (847-475-3410).
Over in Detroit, there’s the 2012 Detroit MLK Day Rally and March: Jobs, Peace & Justice. The event is a tribute to the women of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) that starts at noon at Central United Methodist Church. A march through downtown Detroit follows, with a celebration culminating in the church’s second floor at 23 E. Adams and Woodward. The University of Michigan-Detroit Center (3663 Woodward Ave., Suite 150) is hosting “It’s Going On in the Hood,” a panel discussion from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m focusing on efforts to aid Detroit’s neighborhoods. For more information, visit detroitcenter.umich.edu or call the Detroit Center at (313) 593-3584.
The 18th Annual MLK Grande Parade starts in Mid-Town at San Jacinto St and Elgin Street. For more information about the parade and pre event activities visit www.mlkgrandeparade.org. After the parade, enjoy a day of service with the Harlem Globetrotters at Root Memorial Square Park (1400 Clay Street, Houston. ) from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
7. LOS ANGELES
Instead of watching the Lakers or Clippers on TV, locals can attend this year’s Kingdom Day Parade. The parade’s theme is “The Dream Continues to Live and Grow.” Plus, City Year Los Angeles also sponsors a day of service at Los Angeles Academy Middle School where Angelenos can build benches and paint murals. Find more volunteer opportunities at MLKDay.gov.
South Florida Urban Ministries celebrates and honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a day of community service. SFLUM staff and a team of AmeriCorps members and other volunteers spend the day beautifying Florida City through several painting and tree planting projects. Additionally, volunteers will help beautify and revitalize four homes in Florida City. Also includes open and closing ceremonies and lunch; 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Branches Florida City, 145 SW Fifth Ave., Florida City. Free. 305-442-8306.
9. NEW ORLEANS
In the Big Easy, locals can attend the 25th annual program of the Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force Inc. of Jefferson Parish which includes a 6:45 p.m. banquet at The Four Columns, 3711 West Bank Expressway, Harvey. The theme is “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On … Not a Day Off!” Tickets are $40 per person, and organizers suggest you call soon to reserve seats. Call Clara T. Byes at 504.376.2130 or 504.368.5332.
10. NEW YORK
New Yorkers have lots of options too. Locals can visit “Picture the Dream,” a free exhibit that showcases collages that echo the message of Martin Luther King, Jr., created by children living in Brooklyn public housing. BAMcafé, 30 Lafayette Ave., btwn Ashland Pl. and St. Felix St., Brooklyn. For more info, 718-636-4111. Film buffs can watch a screening of Nothing But a Man, which is playing at the Museum of the Moving Image at 3 p.m. It’s free with $12 museum admission. The film honors the push for civil rights by Martin Luther King, Jr., as it focuses on a 1960s African American railroad worker and his family’s struggle against racism. 36-01 35 Ave., at 37th St., Astoria. For more info, 718-777-6888. And Harlemites can take the Civil Rights Multimedia Walking Tour sponsored by the Harlem Heritage & Cultural Center, 1 p.m. For $25, you can watch a video presentation of Dr. King, visit the hub of Manhattan’s African American community and explore sights related to Martin Luther King, Jr. and other important civil rights figures. 104 Malcolm X Blvd., btwn 115th and 116th sts.
The Allen Temple Leadership Institute with Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Larry Reid lead the “Green Clean Up Day,” a service event which will target 20 blocks in East Oakland for cleaning, graffiti removal and trash pick up. More than 200 volunteers are expected to participate in the cleanup, which is set to take place between 8:30 a.m. and noon, primarily along International Boulevard between 81st and 98th avenues.
12. SAN FRANCISCO
It’s all about service in San Francisco too. Volunteers plan to meet at the African American Art and Culture Complex today to clean up the Bernal Heights neighborhood. The Department of Public Works is providing transportation, and volunteers will be weeding, landscaping, and cleaning up the area. Volunteers also plan to build two picnic tables, construct and install four bulletin boards, improve the landscaping of a school garden and paint school railings and lunch tables at John O’Connell High School on San Francisco’s Folsom Street.
13. WASHINGTON, DC
In the nation’s capitol, the must-see event is a performance by Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin and the Let Freedom Ring Choir who’ll sing “Let Freedom Ring,” a musical tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Plus, Clarence Jones, former King attorney and speechwriter will receive the 10th annual John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award at the Kennedy Center, Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW. Tickets are free to the 6 p.m. ceremony and are distributed, two per person, to those in line in the Hall of Nations starting a 5 p.m. Monday. 202-467-4600.