5 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day


It’s been almost 51 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and this year King would have been 90 years old. The civil rights leader and icon was murdered on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 39. Yearly, his birthday (Jan. 15) is celebrated on the third Monday of January. There are countless ways to commemorate King and his legacy, from educating yourself on the civil rights movement, to supporting organizations that fight for racial justice, to watching films about King’s life, to volunteering. Below are five other ways to continue his legacy.

1. Revisit Dr. King’s speeches

“I have a dream” is King’s most famous and popular speech, but the civil rights leader, activist and preacher gave a number of speeches with poignant points. Here are a few from which to choose:

2. Visit a civil rights museum

There are several civil rights museums in the nation, and some are free on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Below are a few notable museums worth checking out, but be sure to check the news and media for local listings.

3. Participate in the Martin Luther King Day of Service

On MLK Day, make it a day on, not a day off, by committing to a day of service. You can volunteer for a program that already exists in your community, or you can create your own project. Feeding the less fortunate, cleaning up the community, and restoring abandoned buildings are just a few ideas that would be appropriate. If you need assistance with ideas for the Martin Luther King Day of Service, the Corporation for National and Community Service has a search engine for local and regional volunteer opportunities. You can also check your local news outlets.

4. Read a book about King’s life

Several books have been written about Dr. King’s life and legacy. You can spend MLK Day reading about it. For starters, you could read his autobiography, one or more of his speeches and writings, or read about his commitment to community. The following titles are three of many texts about King.

MORE: Meaningful ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day at any age

5. Commit to standing against injustice

What was significant about King and his values was that he was committed to combating and fighting injustice. A great way to honor King would be to make your own commitment to standing against discrimination and inequality. That could look different depending on the circumstance, but you could start by talking to problematic people and calling out acts of oppression and inequality directly. Although having tough conversations may not always feel comfortable, there are books and entire curricula written about how to do exactly that.