Meaningful ways to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


There's a plethora of events in Chicagoland honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday - from story telling to symphonies to hands-on learning. Check out our list below. Monday is definitely not a day to stay at home.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Learn about one of America’s most inspirational social activists who led the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used nonviolent methods to achieve social change. Come celebrate this remarkable Nobel Peace Prize winner by creating a colorful collage of Dr. King.


Black Creativity Family Day

Meet and interact with STEM professionals in workshops called Jr. Science Cafés, enjoy hourly facilitated workshops in the Innovation Studio (10 a.m.-3 p.m.), and visit The Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition, which features more than 100 dynamic art works from both professional and amateur African-American artists from around the country.


What Does It Mean, Dr. King?

The performance invites children and adults to participate in the program and say what they would have done if faced with some of the situations that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. The program touches upon several key historical moments. Following the play, children are encouraged to write letters to Dr. King.


Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year’s program includes a never-before-seen performance featuring young musicians from every corner of the city playing and singing “side by side” with the orchestra. The signature Sinfonietta performance will highlight the next generation of diverse musicians being developed in Chicago and celebrates the city’s intergenerational dedication to the messages of Dr. King. Performances take place at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie (Jan. 14), Wentz Concert Hall of North Central College (Jan. 15) and Symphony Center (Jan. 16).


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Enjoy crafts, a special story time, and a book drive project.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Children of all ages (and any artistically-inclined adults!) will be a part of our Color A Smile service project, a drop-in coloring event (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) on the Lower Level. The library will also screen the film Hairspray at 1:30 p.m., and host a special storytime and activity for preschoolers from 3:30-4 p.m.


MLK Day Celebration

This year’s featured keynote speaker is Dr. Theon Hill, civil rights expert and assistant professor at Wheaton College. The Outreach Community Center’s Children’s Choir will perform and a student from the center’s College Opportunity Program will share the impact of this comprehensive college and career preparation program. Attendees are invited to come early for a community circle dialogue about the lasting impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work (6-6:45 p.m.), led by RESTORE: Carol Stream Peacemakers.


The M^eLK Beatbox Train

The day begins at Open Books (651 W. Lake St.) for a fun, family friendly service event. Then, hop on the L with the Chicago Architecture Foundation to learn about the history of the famous "L" system, and how it has shaped the development of the surrounding buildings and districts within the Loop. The CAF tour will be accompanied by a Beatbox community jam with Yuri Lane, an internationally acclaimed harmonica artist with more than 15 million YouTube fans. Register at


African Dance Celebration

The Soli Performing Arts Company celebrates African culture through authentic dance, drum music and stories for the entire family. The dancers will wear authentic attire and play native instruments.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day incorporates spoken word, performance and craft activities that reflect Dr. King’s messages of peace and justice. Includes a performance of the “The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights,” by Writers Theatre, a performance by the Chicago Chamber Choir and a reenactment of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by award-winning storyteller Oba William King.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

At noon, guests can stop by the Discovery Center for remarks by Evan Wimberly, a member of the Society’s King Conservation Science Scholars program. Afterwards, enjoy performances by Mia Nevarez and Grace Clark, members of the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project as well as King Conservation Science Scholars. Between performances, guests will be able to watch Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Kids can share their dreams on peace flags, which will be hung on branches and displayed in the zoo’s Hamill Family Play Zoo.


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