Tom Houck's Civil Rights Tour provides fascinating insights about the civil rights movement. (📷 Tom Houck Civil Rights Tour.)

Learn all about the Atlanta civil rights movement at Atlanta History Center.

The Children's Museum of Atlanta celebrates Dr. King.

Things to Do for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Atlanta

Atlanta is the proud spiritual home of the American civil rights movement. Every year, the city honors Dr. King’s January birthday with a number of events. Here are some of this year’s events leading up to and on MLK Day:

1. 2-Day Nonviolence Training, Jan. 10 and 11

Participants gain insight into Dr. King’s “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence” and his “World House” perspective, as well as interactive sessions on his Six Principles of Nonviolence and Six Steps of Nonviolence. The King Center, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 

2. MLK Young Adult Sip & Service, Jan. 12

In commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the office of Intercultural Ministries of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church presents a brunch and service opportunity. During this event, attendees create hygiene kits for the homeless and economically disadvantaged. 18 and over. 2-4 p.m.

3. 2020 King Holiday Observance Reception, Jan. 14

The King Center kicks off the observance with a reception. 6 to 8 p.m.

4. Nonviolence Teach-In, Jan 15

The King Center is calling on educational institutions and organizations around the globe to join in a a worldwide Teach-In on Nonviolence. King Center, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

5. Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Jan. 16

This famed dance group performs a dance with the theme of the Tulsa Race Riots at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. 5-9 p.m.

6. The Annual “Salute to Greatness” Awards and Gala, Jan. 18

The ceremony honors individuals, corporations, humanitarians, activists and organizations whose leadership has demonstrated a commitment to social responsibility in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hyatt Regency, 6-10 p.m.

7. Civil Rights Tour, Jan. 18 and 25

Join Tom Houck, who once served as Dr. King’s chauffeur, as he leads a bus tour of some of the known, and lesser known, sites and provides information with and about leaders in the civil rights movement. 11 a.m.; $65.

8. MLK Ball 2020, Jan 19

This black-tie event honors the achievements of outstanding citizens. Honorees Include Rep. Lucy McBath, Judge Kareem West, Deputy Chief Scott Hamilton, Chesley McNeil, Dr. Harris T. Travis and Mr. Kelvin King. The guest speaker is Dr. Jamal H. Bryant.

9. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service, Jan. 20

Come to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King preached and listen to sermons on his legacy and how to bring his teachings forward. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

The King Week Holiday March & Rally immediately follows the Commemorative Service. It is on Auburn Avenue from Peachtree Street to Jackson Street.

10. MLK Day 5K, Jan. 20

Gather in Piedmont Park to celebrate the day with a 5K walk/run with the theme, “Let Freedom Run.” The USATF-certified race course and Peachtree Road Race qualifier is special in that runners will pound the pavement to the beat of a 3.1-mile drum line along the race course. Party starts at 8 a.m.; run begins at 9 a.m.

11. MLK Day for Kids, Jan. 20

The Children’s Museum of Atlanta welcomes children and families for a special celebration of Dr. King’s birthday. Little ones can hear stories about the civil rights leader and learn about his impact and the dreams he shared for the future.  $13.95-$18.95

12. We Shall Overcome, Jan. 20

Historic Oakland Cemetery offers a free tour, “We Shall Overcome: African-American Stories from Civil War to Civil Rights,” that explores the life and accomplishments of outstanding and ordinary African-Americans who worked to overcome slavery and discrimination. There are a limited number of tickets so early reservations are encouraged. 1-2 p.m.

13. Free National Parks Day, Jan. 20

To honor Dr. King, all national parks, including Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, offer free admittance.

14. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Atlanta History Center, Jan. 20

The museum is offering a free day with inspiring performances, programs and historical simulations taking place-all of which tell the stories of African-Americans in Atlanta. Among the highlights is a performance of “Walking Through the Valley.” 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

15. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards, Jan. 23

The free 28th annual Martin Luther King Community Service Awards honor those who help the community. There is a reception after ceremony, all at the Rollins School of Public Health. 4:30 p.m.

16. Morehouse College Annual MLK Lecture, Jan. 23

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is the featured speaker in the college’s annual, free MLK Lecture Series in the Performing Arts Center. 5:30-7:30 p.m.


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Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications. 

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