How To Participate in Area Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebrations


Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC. Photo by Doug Marrin.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, GA. Designated as a federal holiday in 1983, Dr. King’s birthday is observed on the third Monday of each January. This year, the observance of MLK’s birthday happens to coincide with his actual birthday on Monday, January 15, 2024, marking what would have been his 95th birthday.

Though his message is over half a century old, it remains as relevant as ever. Dr. King’s work focused on civil rights, change through nonviolent protest, and public service. To learn more about Dr. King, his legacy, and the work he inspired in others, check out these local MLK Day events, most of which are free and open to the public.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is offering its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium Keynote Memorial Lecture. According to its website, “Since 1987, the MLK Symposium Keynote Memorial Lecture has featured religious leaders, artists, public servants, and educators, to connect more deeply with King's words and actions.”

The 2024 keynote is being provided by bestselling author, advocate, and legal scholar Dr. Michelle Alexander and is entitled, “Transforming the Jangling Discords of Our Nation into a Beautiful Symphony.” Dr. Alexander is the author of, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” Her lecture is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 15th from 10:00 am to 11:30 am at Hill Auditorium.

The University offers several events in addition to the keynote lecture, including an extended children’s and youth program. Additional details for the lecture and the rest of their events can be found on the University of Michigan Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives website.

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University is also hosting several events to recognize and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., scheduled throughout the week of January 15-19.

One event is the MLK Jr. President’s Luncheon, which features a keynote entitled, “Driven. Innovative. Inspiring,” provided by the Honorable Victoria Pratt, Chief Judge for Newark Municipal Court in Newark, NJ. Fox 2 News anchor Roop Raj is scheduled to emcee the event which takes place on Monday, January 15th from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm in the Ballroom at the Student Center. Tickets are required for this event and can be purchased on EMU’s website.

Another event of note is called the MLK Jr. Walk to Freedom and is scheduled for January 15th from 8:45 am to 10:00 am. According to EMU’s schedule of events, attendees will walk from the MLK Statue to the Student Center.

Washtenaw Community College

WCC is hosting its 18th annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Thursday, January 11th. Shamar Herron, Southeast Executive Director of MichiganWorks! is scheduled to deliver a keynote address that, according to WCC’s website, is “inspired by Dr. King’s message of economic justice and, specifically, his words from a 1968 sermon: “[If] a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.”

WCC will also present its Equity in Action awards during the event. Equity in Action awards are presented to members of the WCC community who, “embody the college’s mission to make a positive difference in people’s lives by exemplifying the values and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., specifically in the areas of advocacy, leadership and service.”

WCC’s MLK Day Celebration is scheduled to take place from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm on Thursday, January 11th on the second floor of the Student Center.

Ypsilanti District Library

Celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. by visiting the Superior Branch of the Ypsilanti District Library on Monday, January 15th from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm for a performance by the Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit. According to the library’s website, there are additional activities before and after the performance.

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