MLK Day: Last-Minute Opportunities to Volunteer and Celebrate

From community service to teach-ins to pay-what-you-wish museum admission, Philly's got plenty to offer on Monday.


mlk day

Created by muralist Cliff Eubanks, “MLK on Lancaster Avenue,” located at 40th Street, portrays Dr. King’s address to a crowd of 10,000 people at this intersection in August of 1965. | Photo by VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Whether you’re looking to volunteer, learn about Dr. Kings’ legacy or further it yourself, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to celebrate MLK Day in the region.

If you want to…

Volunteer

More than 140,000 people are expected to participate in the 23rd annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, organized through civic engagement nonprofit Global Citizen. The largest event of its kind in the nation, the movement offers more than 1,800 service opportunities, per its website. 

There, you’ll find a running list of volunteer opportunities, including their dates, times and locations, as well as whether or not said opportunities are full. Plenty are still open! You can browse projects and register online now.

For more information on the King Day of Service, you can visit Global Citizens’ website – or contact its offices by calling 215-851-1811 or emailing [email protected]

Learn and Celebrate

  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia is offering a reduced admission rate of $2 on Monday. The museum kicked off its annual MLK Weekend Celebration this past Friday. Guests can participate in holiday-related activities, performances and workshops and peruse the museums core exhibit, Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia, 1776-1876, as well as its special exhibit, Gardens of the Mind.
  • The National Constitution Center will offer $5 admission on Monday for its Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration. Activities include a book drive, sing-alongs, arts and crafts and informational programs. Local actors will perform Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
  • The Eastern State Penitentiary will host professional actors, students and community leaders to read Dr. King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail. The readings, which are free and open to the public, will include discussions on the following questions, per the penitentiary’s website:
    • Why did the civil rights leaders of the 1960s choose jail time to demonstrate their plight?
    • How did Dr. King’s letter, written in the margins of a newspaper and smuggled out of Birmingham Jail, create a pivotal moment in the American civil rights movement?
    • If Dr. King were alive today, what issues would his letter address?
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art will offer pay-as-you-wish admission on Monday, as well as community service opportunities and youth-focused conversations on how Dr. King’s legacy can inspire today’s social movements.
  • The National Liberty Museum will screen Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, which centers of the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. Admission to the museum is pay-what-you-wish.
  • The National Museum of American Jewish History will be free all day on Monday, and special programming will unfold between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • The Please Touch Museum will offer several youth-focused MLK Day activities, free with admission.
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra will hold a free, 90-minute performance on Monday at Girard College. Tickets and seating are both first-come, first-serve.

Empower

POWER, a network of congregations in the Greater Philadelphia area, will hold “A People’s Call to Action Rally and Teach-Ins” on Monday. The event will include a rally from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. and teach-ins from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., both held at Dobbins High School, at 2150 W Lehigh Avenue in North Philly.

The social justice organization is part of the MLK DARE coalition, which advocates for a holiday packed with action, resistance and empowerment, inspired by Dr. King’s vision for equality and justice.