12 Ways to Celebrate MLK Day in Chicago

Last year I shared 15 citywide events and activities in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year I am back with a series of incredible events that again, will help celebrate the legacy of the Civil Rights activist and leader. Check out how you can serve the community of Chicago during the  National Day of Service and continue the outreach that Dr. King instilled over 50 years ago. Here are a list of 12 MLK Day events in Chicago for 2019.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service: What are you doing for others?

Monday | January 21st | 7:30 p.m.

Deneen School of Excellence | 7257 South State St. | 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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Image | City Year

On Monday, January 21, 2019, volunteers will join City Year’s 3,000+ AmeriCorps members at locations across the United States to participate in a day of service. City Year Chicago will commemorate the civil rights movement with hundreds of volunteers from across the city and state to transform and beautify Deneen School fo Excellence with murals, painting, and light construction projects to reconnect, transform, uplift, and inspire the students, staff, and community. Volunteer spots are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Register here to volunteer with City Year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Arts Bank Remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday | January 20th | 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Stony Island Arts Bank | 6760 South Stony Island Ave. | Free

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Image | Stony Island Arts Bank

On Sunday, January 20, the Stony Island Arts Bank will screen rare footage and films celebrating the illustrious life and profound legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Arts Bank will also pull select materials from our special collections for display and interaction. All ages are welcome, this event is free and open to the public. For more details, visit the event page here.

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah

Saturday & Sunday | January 19th & 20th | 7:30 p.m. & 3:00 p.m.

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University | 50 E Congress Pkwy. | $29 – $86

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Image | Roosevelt University

It’s always cold outside this time of year, but it’s hot inside the Auditorium Theatre. Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah,  the annual event of jazz, gospel, and blues is inspired by Dr. King’s message of “beloved community.” Be sure to check out the website for event details and ticket availability.

MLK Tribute Concert

Monday | January 21st | 7:30 p.m.

Symphony Center | 220 S Michigan Ave. | $10 – $75

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Image Chicago Sinfonietta

Chicago Sinfonietta presents the annual concert to celebrate the birth and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since its inception, the Sinfonietta has remained a testament to a mission of diversity, inclusion, and equity. This season, the program will consistent of guest conductors and spoken word. Performances are held in Chicago and in Naperville. Don’t miss out on this unique experience, purchase your tickets to the event here.

Live the Dream Monologues

Thursday | January 24th | 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Northeastern Illinois University | 5500 North Saint Louis Ave. | Free

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Image | Northeastern Illinois University

Join the Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) community for an afternoon filled with storytelling, art, & performances that celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. This event seeks to give a platform to NEIU student storytellers, artists, poets, and performers. This event is free and open to the public. To attend, register on the event page here.

The 8th Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Monday | January 21st | 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Black Ensemble Theatre | 4450 N Clark St. | Free

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Image | The African-American Arts Alliance

Join The African-American Arts Alliance and the Black Ensemble Theater for The 8th Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration. The event will feature performances by the Muntu Dance Theater, spoken word by John the Author, excerpts from Jackie Taylor’s Black Renaissance, and much more. A pre-show marketing fair and reception is available for those in attendance as well. To attend, visit the event page.

Let Freedom Ring, Chicago!

Monday | January 21st | 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

City Winery | 1200 W Randolph St. | $25 – $40

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Image | City Winery West Loop

Let Freedom Ring, Chicago! A Musical Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will take place at City Winery in the West Loop. The two-act concert celebrates music that was not only Dr. King’s favorite songs, but often featured in his rallies, marches, and public-appearances, plus music inspired by the vision that Martin Luther King had for America. A portion of the proceeds will also support the work of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, founded 50 years ago during the 1960s civil rights movement. For more details, including a full list of performers, visit the website.

Kido Celebrates MLK Day

Monday | January 21st | 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Kido | 1137 S Delano Ct. | Free

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Image | Kido Chicago

Pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a big way with the black-owened childnre’s store, Kido. Kido will debut limited edition MLK t-shirt during their free event. Plus, new MLK books going on sale for a limited time. The boutiwue will also be host unique activites including a live recording and live performances. For more details, visit the event page here.

MLK Celebration Day

Monday | January 21st | 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Hyde Park Art Center | 5020 S Cornell Ave. | Free

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Illustration by artist Miha Sarani

Join the Hyde Park Art Center for their annual MLK Day celebration. The arts center will host a day filled with free movie screenings, art-making activities, spoken word, performances and curator tours. For a full schedule of events, visit the event page.

King Day 2019: Celebrating the Dream

Monday | January 21st | 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

DuSable Museum |740 E 56th Pl. | Free

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Image | DuSable Museum

MLK Day at the DuSable Museum is a well-known annual event. Celebrate the legacy of Dr. King with all day activities of family fun programs featuring music, lectures, performances, and crafts for all ages to enjoy. To learn more about the legacy filled event, visit the museum website here.

King Day Festival: Long Journey into Freedom

Monday | January 21st | 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Art Institute of Chicago | 111 S Michigan Ave. | Free; With museum admission

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Image | Art Institute of Chicago

Find your way through the past and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Art Institute of Chicago. While enjoying world class art and exhibitions, be sure to visit the exhibition Night Coming Tenderly, Black featuring photographs by Chicago artist Dawoud Bey. The museum will be filled with family-friendly activities such as creative art making and collaborative activities with artists, musicians, poets. Check out the website to learn more about how you can celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the Art Insistute of Chicago.

29th Annual MLK Scholarship Breakfast “Sketches of a New Legacy”

Monday| January 21st | 8:00 a.m.

Hyatt Regency Chicago| 151 East Upper Wacker Dr. | $150 – $1500

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Image | Push Exccel

Spend your day of service celebrating the life and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Push Excel. Push Excel will host the 29th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast “Sketches of a New Legacy.” An event that will feature civic leaders, clergy business leaders, educators, and community stakeholders—poised to highlight the rich history of PUSH Excel, its programs and its focus on both educational victories and challenges. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event page here.


If you are looking for more ways to serve and advocate for your community year around, be sure to check out volunteer websites like Chicago Cares, Volunteer Match, and One Good Deed Chicago, for year-long opportunities to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy in 2019.


How will you spend your MLK Day? Share your comments with me below!

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