Martin Luther King, Jr. day is a federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and is also known as a National Day of Service. Social distancing may have us celebrating differently than previous years; regardless we can still honor Dr. King’s legacy by commemorating this momentous day through community-oriented events, celebrations, and community service. These events are easy to attend virtually or with safety precautions in-person.
Note: Effective January 3, any individual age 5 and older will be required to show proof of vaccination to dine indoors, visit gyms, or enjoy entertainment venues where food or drink are being served. Learn more by visiting Chicago.gov.
1. Tune Into a Virtual event That Honors Dr. King’s Legacy
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day., tune into virtual events from the historically black organizations. The DuSable Museum and Rainbow PUSH Coalition are hosting activities online all day long. If you want to attend an MLK Day event outside of Chicago, a virtual event is a perfect way to do so! You can also stream events such as the or a host of other online events that also honor the legacy of Dr. King.
2. Participate in in-person activities at local cultural institutions
Celebrating arts and culture during MLK Day is a great way to honor the legacy of Dr. King. History buffs of all ages can enjoy the Martin Luther King Jr. Day family event at the Chicago History Museum. The commemorative event will reflect on the life and work of Dr. King. This event is FREE with Museum admission, which is complimentary for Illinois residents on this day. Reservations are appreciated but not required.
For music lovers, celebrate Dr. King’s legacy with song. Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah is an annual jazz-gospel takeover at the Auditorium theater. Now in its 17th year, the well known performance features world-class musicians sharing a stage with chamber orchestra, jazz combo, a huge choir, and three gifted soloists. This is an energetic and exuberant show that will bring all types of Chicagoans together in celebration. For tickets to the weekend long performances, visit the website here.
3. Visit and Support Black-Owned Businesses Throughout Chicago
In 1965, Dr. King came to the city by invitation from the Chicago Freedom Movement, moving his family to what is now known as the Lawndale neighborhood on the Westside of Chicago. Dr. King, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and local leaders of this movement, worked together to end segregation in public schools, fight for fair housing, and improve blacks’ living conditions in Chicago.
This MLK Day, actively support black-owned businesses in Chicago. Because of Dr.King and other civil rights leaders’ actions, black businesses can open up shops anywhere they choose to in the city. For a list of black-owned businesses, visit resources such as the Black Mall, Black-Owned Chicago, and Black Shop Friday,
4. Volunteer In-Person or Virtually with Chicago Based Organizations
Celebrate the legacy of Dr. King by volunteering with a local Chicago organization. Organizations like SkyArt, The Urban League, and locally affiliated chapters of the Divine 9 sorority and fraternities celebrate this National Day of Service with various ways of giving back to the community. Both organizations offer in-person and virtual events and activities that connect the community safely. To learn more, visit their websites. Not seeing a volunteer opportunity that you like? Check out Chicago Cares, Volunteer Match, and One Good Deed Chicago. These websites provide year-long activities and service opportunities.