MLK Day Events and Activities in Chicago

Martin Luther King, Jr. The day is a federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., a celebration also known as MLK Day. While most people take the day off—others take the day to commemorate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with community-oriented events, celebrations, and service actives. Join other Chicagoans as you experience events and activities for all ages during MLK Day in Chicago.


Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah

Saturday & Sunday | January 18th & 19th | 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

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah,  is an annual event of jazz, gospel, and blues-inspired by Dr. King’s message of “beloved community.” This performance celebrates 15 years of the yearly tribute with powerful and uplifting performance artists. Be sure to check out the website for event details and ticket availability.

MLK Tribute Concert

Monday | January 20th | 7:30 p.m.

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

image | Chicago Sinfonietta

The Chicago Sinfonietta melds traditions with impactful social during its highly anticipate annual MLK Tribute Concert. From musical conversations between CS Assistant Conductor and “The Voice” contestants to classic emotional and compositions featuring two local choirs, this stirring tribute is one that you will not want to miss. To purchase tickets to the tribute concert, visit the website here. 

The 9th Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Monday | January 20th | 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Black Ensemble Theatre | 4450 N Clark St. | $20

Image | Black Ensemble Theatre

Join The African-American Arts Alliance and the Black Ensemble Theater for The Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration. The event will feature performances by the M.A.A.D Rhythms, Andre Teamer, Rhonda Preston, and some incredible Story Tellers. A pre-show vendor fair and reception are available for those in attendance as well. To attend, visit the event page.

Kido Celebrates MLK Day

Monday | January 20th | 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Kido | 1137 S Delano Ct. | Free

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Image | Kido Chicago

Kido the children’s clothing boutique located at Delano Court will pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this Monday, January 20th. Crafts, literature, storytelling, and spoken word will take place throughout the day. For more details about this MLK Day activity, visit the event page here.

From Our Hearts Chicago MLK Day of Service

Sunday – Monday | January 19th – 20th | Time Varies

Location Varies | Free

Human Rights Campaign Chicago is partnering with From Our Hearts Chicago for a unique MLK Day of Service event. They will be building Love Bags on Sunday, Jan 19 and then distributing them on Monday, Jan 20 along with coats, throw blankets etc. around the city and giving directly to people experiencing homelessness. Event locations will be emailed to volunteers who sign up a few days before the event. To participate, visit the website here.

MLK Day of Service

Sunday | January 19th | 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Sage Room Chicago| 67 East Cermak Rd.| $10

Image | Sigma Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Give back while enjoying good vibes at this MLK Day event in Chicago. Join the men of Sigma Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in supporting Ronald McDonald House and Black Business spotlight – Tip32 Sauce taste samples available until exhausted. The product will be available for purchase. The organization is also asking for donations for families, the Ronald McDonald House. To learn more about the event, visit the event page.

14th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Family Health Challenge

Monday | January 20th | 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

George Leland Stem School | 512 S Lavergne St.| Free

Pursue your dreams of health and financial wealth during MLK Day. The 14th Annual Family Health challenge hosted by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – Tau Xi Zeta Chapter of Forest Park, IL will partner with Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford, (D-Chicago), engages community members to actively participate in maintaining their physical, mental and financial health. The event features speakers and activities for youth. For more information or to volunteer, visit the website here.

MLK Day “Freedom Family” Celebration

Monday | January 20th | 9:30 a.m.

Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory | 5088 W Jackson Blvd.| Free

Honor Dr. King’s dream with a day of family fun and service to our community-led by Build Chicago. This special event will feature various service projects that include a peace march, hope kits, a legacy village, food, games, a youth performance, art projects, and more. To learn more about the event, please contact Ebonee Porche at eboneeporche@buildchicago.org

MLK Day “Freedom Family” Celebration

Monday | January 20th | 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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

Image | Hyde Park Art Center

Join the Hyde Park Art Center for their annual MLK Day celebration. The arts center will host an afternoon celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a series of workshops, performances, and film. This event is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, visit the event page.

1st annual MLK Speech Slam Competition

Saturday| January 18th | 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Kennedy King College | 740 W 63rd St. | Free

Support Chicago’s creative community at this MLK Day event in Chicago. Collaboraction, Chicago’s Theatre For Social Change, is producing the 1st annual MLK Speech Slam competition on January 18, 2020, at the 300 seat main stage theater at Kennedy-King College as a part of their 3rd Annual Encounter Series. There will be a $1000 first-place prize given to each category winner as selected by a panel of judges. The event is free with an RSVP to boxoffice@collaboraction.org.

King Day 2020: Focused on Freedom

Monday | January 21st | 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

DuSable Museum |740 E 56th Pl. | $5

Image | The DuSable Museum. of African-American History

Celebrate MLK Day with DuSable Museum. The African American History museum in Chicago encourages attendees to reflect on Dr. King’s vision of justice and equality by experiencing a day filled with lectures, performances, films, and more. For a full schedule of events and to volunteer, visit the DuSable Museum website.

MLK DAY 2020: My Dream My Chicago

Monday | January 20th | 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Institute for Nonviolence Chicago| 819 North Leamington Ave | Free

Image | Institute for Nonviolence Chicago

Learn about ways to build a peaceful Chicago with Institute for NonViolence Chicago. Meet the team, learn about the organizations mission to bring about peace to Chicago by decreasing violence, and find out ways to get involved. Refreshments will be served at this event. To register, visit the event page here.

King Day Festival: Tomorrow is Today

Monday | January 20th | 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

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

Image | Art Institute of Chicago

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Art Institute of Chicago. Create a vision for the future guided by artists and activists at work today. Chicago-based sound and visual artist Damon Locks presents a music performance with his Black Monument Ensemble. Move Me Soul dancers present a movement workshop, and young artists from the award-winning Rebirth/Reborn Poetry Ensemble share powerful spoken word pieces. Families can add their own messages of hope for the future to silkscreened postcards from multidisciplinary artist William Estrada’s Mobile Street Art Cart. To ensure the widest possible participation at this special event, activities in the Ryan Learning Center are free for all, and Illinois residents receive free museum admission on King Day.

30th Annual MLK Scholarship Breakfast “Sketches of a New Legacy”

Monday | January 20th | 8:00 a.m.

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

Spend your day of service, celebrating the life and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Push Excel. This year’s scholarship breakfast will focus on “The Journey from Emancipation to Educational Equity. The 30th annual breakfast 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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Faith in Action Assembly

Monday | January 20th | 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church | 2151 West Washington Blvd.| Free

image | Community Renewal Society

Dr. King was a man of faith, and this MLK Day event focuses on just that. Join the Community Renewal Society for the celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. for registration; praise in worship will begin at 8:45 a.m. with the Youth Choir, and the program will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 12:00 noon. Their Youth and Community Forum will feature youth from across Chicagoland, addressing the issues of our time: U.S. Census, Fair Tax Amendment in Illinois, and Just Housing. Rev. Dr. Carmin Frederick-James of Covenant UCC and Rev. Dr. Reginald W. Williams Jr. of First Baptist Church of University Park will serve as our keynote speakers. To learn more, visit the website here. 

MLK Food Justice And Sustainability Weekend

Saturday – Sunday | January 18th – 19th | 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation |1100 East Hyde Park Blvd.| Free

Learn and experience sustainable food culture and justice in Chicago during MLK Day weekend in Chicago. Lead by the KAM Isaiah Israel’s Food Justice and Sustainability Committee presents the 11th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Food Justice and Sustainability Weekend. The Saturday and Sunday program includes workshops by leading growers, environmentalists, scientists, and social justice activists. The goal of the weekend is to provide participants with powerful tools for change and a heightened motivation to work toward a greener, more equitable, and sustainable world. For a full schedule of workshops and activities, visit the website here.


Looking for more ways to connect with your community beyond MLK Day? Check out Chicago Cares, Volunteer Match, and One Good Deed Chicago. These website provide year-long activities and service opportunities.


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