Martin Luther King Jr. Day Opportunities to Volunteer and Celebrate in Philadelphia

Honor the legacy of the civil rights leader with these events and service opportunities.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., pictured here giving a speech, is honored every January in Philadelphia and nationally. | Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Monday, January 18th, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday that honors the legacy of the civil rights leader who dedicated his life to the struggle for racial equality. On this nationally designated “day of service,” Americans are encouraged to volunteer to improve their communities and reflect on King’s life and legacy. Locating volunteer opportunities in the middle of a pandemic can be a bit challenging, but there are still options. Whether you’re looking to celebrate, volunteer, or learn more about King, we’ve got you covered. Here’s where and how to celebrate MLK Day in the region.

Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service

There are volunteer and service opportunities available through the 26th annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, organized by civic engagement nonprofit Global Citizen. Girard College will be the Day of Service hub as a testing site for COVID-19. Here’s a running list of volunteer and learning opportunities, including dates, times and locations as well as whether said opportunities are full — and whether they’re virtual or in-person. You can browse and register online now through the Volunteer Portal.

Eastern State Penitentiary’s MLK Day Commemoration

Eastern State Penitentiary is commemorating King and his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with virtual readings from the text by students, educators, activists and community members, hosted by creative director and educator Starfire. There will also be discussion and reflection on the relevance of King’s words today. The event, taking place on Monday, January 18th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as both a Zoom webinar and on Facebook, is comprised of six 30-minute back-to-back sessions, so you can drop into one session or all six.

National Liberty Museum’s Virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend

The museum is hosting a full weekend of family-fun virtual programs — complete with story time, an art demonstration, and a call to action — to honor the life, memory and work of Martin Luther King Jr. You’ll find engaging programming (including Drag Queen Story Time about service and activism) for kids ages four through 12. The full schedule can be seen here.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s MLK Weekend Celebration 

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is hosting a virtual MLK Day celebration this year with a long weekend full of free events, including kid-friendly morning programming, a virtual screening of Shuja Moore’s series Walkies, and a reading and conversation with Philadelphia poet laureate Trapeta Mayson and author Jonathan Escoffery, moderated by author Leesa Fenderson. See the full schedule here.

The Music School of Delaware’s Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Tribute

The Music School of Delaware is celebrating with a livestream of its Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Tribute on Friday, January 15th, at 7 p.m. with a tribute to Miles Davis as well as readings that celebrate Black leadership during the Reconstruction Era. Free registration is available on the website, and there’s additional information on Facebook.

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution offers both virtual and in-person events for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, including access to its interactive Finding Freedom exhibit online and a virtual performance by the Philadelphia Jazz Project.

The Philadelphia Orchestra Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert

The Philadelphia Orchestra, in partnership with Global Citizen’s Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, will be hosting its 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert online on January 18th at 7 p.m., with programming that includes multiple performances as well as interviews.

I Love Thy Hood Presents: MLK Day of Service Cleanup

On Sunday, January 17th, at 10 a.m.,  I Love Thy Hood is hosting a cleanup in Germantown at 5700 Greene Street, with materials provided to volunteers. You can participate in the cleanup by signing up on the website; you can also show support by making a donation toward cleaning supplies and refreshments.


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