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

January is the month when Atlanta celebrates the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Of course, Atlanta is proud of the civil rights leader and his deep association with our city every day.  While we all try to live by his principles, January is when the world focuses its attention on his legacy. Here in Atlanta there are several ways to honor him, including a visit to The King Center and many civil rights landmarks along Auburn Avenue. Here are more things to do.

The King Center

The King Center celebrates the Beloved Community in honor of Dr. King. (Photo courtesy of the King Center)

The King Center plans a number of activities in January, including the Beloved Community Awards on Jan. 13 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. On Jan. 8 and 9, the King Center presents “Shifting the Climate through a Love-Centered Strategy,” a virtual workshop series. The “Beloved Community Global Summit” occurs Jan. 10 and 11 at the King Center. The summit focuses on the shifting cultural climate across the globe.

The Beloved Community Virtual Youth Book Reading and Puppetry Presentation occurs from 9 until 10 a.m. on Jan. 10. During the reading of “Linzy Binzy: Around the World with Friends,” young readers will join Linzy Binzy as she travels around the world with friends. In this first adventure, Loving the Skin We’re In, children explore Linzy Binzy’s world of Let’s Pretend, and they meet all of her beautiful friends for the first time. Loving the Skin We’re In is an adventure that will take readers to countries like Scotland, India, Brazil, China, Peru and Liberia with Linzy Binzy and her friends as they celebrate their differences and their beautiful skin.

On Jan. 12, The King Center will rally educators, students, educational institutions and learning organizations across the world to participate in our Beloved Community Teach-In. This worldwide initiative aims to engage people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about the enduring legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Participants will discover how we can work collectively to carry on the Kings’ mission of creating the Beloved Community – a global society founded on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings. This teach-in represents a chance for people everywhere to gain inspiration from studying the example of the Kings while also determining their own role in advancing their inclusive vision for humanity. The King Center hopes classrooms and centers of learning across the globe will take part in this empowering day of discussion, reflection and action.

Georgia Tech MLK Lecture

Georgia Tech will commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during events organized by faculty, staff and students Jan. 8 — 18. Tech’s 2024 MLK celebrations will include the 13th Annual MLK Lecture from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 featuring Maya Wiley, lawyer, professor and civil rights activist. She will share her thoughts and ideas as to how to achieve the ideals espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Beloved Community. The lecture will occur at John Lewis Student Center Atlantic Theater with a reception to follow.

Ebenzer Baptist Church

On Jan. 15, Ebenezer Baptist Church plans the Martin Luther King Jr. Beloved Community Commemorative Service with featured speaker the Rev. Shavon Arline Bradley. president and CEO of the National Council of Negro Women.

Ebenezer Baptist Church also plans “Navigating Our World” special sessions on Jan. 10 and 17. The Jan. 10 discussion will focus on the theology of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the influence of Howard Thurman, with Dr. Walter Earl Fluker. The Jan. 17 discussion will focus on the theology of MLK with the Rev. Dr. Michael Franklin.

Hands On Atlanta

Hands On Atlanta volunteers celebrate Dr. King’s birthday by helping the community. (Photo courtesy of Hands On Atlanta)

Hands on Atlanta presents MLK Day 2024 Jan. 11-15. Thousands of Atlantans will unite in service in celebration of the King Holiday. Volunteers will have access to 100+ projects supporting 40 nonprofits and schools.

Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center commemorates Dr. King’s legacy from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Jan. 15, with a variety of public activities including civil rights-themed trivia, crafts, kids activities, panel discussions and more.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta

The Children’s Museum of Atlanta will celebrate Martin Luther King Weekend Jan. 13-15. Among the scheduled events are: watercolor portraits and quotes in the art studio. Children will learn about Dr. King’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery and then make their own. They will sketch it with pencil, then color it in using watercolor, just like Boris Chaliapin did for Dr. King. For younger guests, there will be various “bubble letter” quotes printed on cardstock to paint.

The Morph Gallery will be laid out as a timeline through Dr. King’s life, with 39 steps (footprints) through the area to symbolize his 39 years of life with fun activities.

In March 1965, Dr. King took part in a historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., to fight for equal rights for Black Americans. At Jane’s Innovation Station, children will more about the journey, how bridges function and take on the challenge to build their own bridge.

Children will be invited onto the Children’s Museum stage to celebrate MLK’s birthday and boogie on down for a Birthday Dance Party and walk around the museum together in a Birthday Parade.

Children will listen to Markell Williams read MLK’s famous ‘” Have a Dream” speech.

HBCU Culture Homecoming Fest and Battle of the Bands

The HBCU Culture Battle of the Bands is planned for Jan. 14 at State Farm Arena. During MLK Weekend, guests are invited to join in celebrating the rich legacy of HBCUs. HBCU Culture is proud to continue its mission of providing more than $10 million for HBCU Scholarships. Featured bands are Alabama State, Fort Valley State, Benedict College, Alabama A&M, Talladega College and Texas Southern.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., admission to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights will be free on Jan. 13. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so book yours online.

Oakland Cemetery

Lend a hand to Oakland Cemetery in honor of Dr. King. (Photo by Sally Smith)

Oakland Cemetery is planning a morning of service on Jan. 15 as a way of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Volunteers may help the cemetery with tree planting, garden beautification and clean up from 9 a.m. until noon. Check Oakland’s website for sign up and further details.

Free Admission to National Parks

To honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., all national parks, including Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offer free entry on Jan. 15. And, of course, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is always free.

To learn more about Dr. King and the civil rights movement, visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Find out more about Atlanta’s civil rights history.

Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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