8 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Philadelphia


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. poses with ministers from the Philadelphia delegation of the Selma to Motgomery Civil Rights March in 1965.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. poses with ministers from the Philadelphia delegation of the Selma to Motgomery Civil Rights March in 1965.

A Day of Service at the National Constitution Center
If MLK day has you in the service mood, the Constitution Center will be right up your alley.  The Center will be collecting school supplies and volunteers are needed on MLK day to sort through the various donations so that they can be delivered. The museum will also house a quilting and sewing community service project that helps Women Against Abuse. This activity requires pre-registration with the Greater Philadelphia Day of Service. Lastly, visitors can sew pillows for the shelter being housed in the Grand Hall Lobby for Women Against Abuse.  9:30am, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street.

Youth programming at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Youth programming at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at National Museum of American Jewish History
The National Museum of Jewish American History is free on January 19th in honor of Martin Luther King Day, when they will host numerous events to celebrate the holiday. The Sister Cities Girl Choir will be performing at 11am. There will also be a legacy youth panel from 2pm to 3:30pm. From 11:30-3pm, there will be a family art project called “I have a dream.”  Lastly, from 11am to 1pm, the museum will be screening the PBS documentary “Eye on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement.”  They will also be collecting food for donation to Philabundance all day. 10am, National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 South Independence Mall East.

MLK Day at Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with live readings throughout the day at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm on MLK day.  These readings will be free.  In addition, ESP has partnered with Art Sanctuary on an arts and crafts opportunity for children 7-12 years old and their families. 10:30am-4:30pm, Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sharing the Heritage Celebration and Day of Service
Join the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Citizens Bank Foundation on MLK day. If you have a spare can or two of food or an extra book, please donate them at the Museum to help support ChAAMPS Against Hunger Philadbundance Food Drive and Philadelphia Reads. There will also be  arts and crafts that demonstrate modern and historical equal rights movements. While you are there, don’t forget to check out the exhibit “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia, 1776-1876.” 11am – 5pm,  The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street.

Change Philly Today
Change Philly Today is hosting a day of service that includes light cleaning and work on their project house. To get more information or to sign up for volunteering email them at [email protected]. Noon – 4pm, Change Philly Today, 263 West Wensley Street.

Henry Ossawa Tanner's The Annunciation, 1898, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Annunciation, 1898, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art
Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art on MLK day for a free guided tour of its new and expansive exhibit on African American art. The collection features artists such as Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Horace Pippin, and Carrie Mae Weems.  The exhibit also shows many different traditions, subjects, styles, and mediums. Noon, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

2nd Annual MLK Day of Service at The William Way LGBT Community Center
Join the William Way LGBT Community Center as they partner with Colours, Ready Willing and Able, Hearts On A Wire, Philly AIDS Thrift, Delta Phi Upsilon, Philadelphia FIGHT’s AIDS Library, and Making Our Lives Easier to put on various community service projects. Volunteers need to register at www.mlkdayofservice.org and the system will automatically assign you to a project based on your geographic location. It takes all the hard work of finding a volunteering job close to home in this cold winter weather. 12:30pm – 4:30pm, William Way, 1315 Spruce Street. 

MLK Tribute Concert
The Philadelphia Orchestra is putting on its annul MLK Tribute Concert this Monday, free of charge. Each attendee is allowed to reserve up to four seats in advance. The program features Brahms’ Tragic Overture; Hannibal’s Veil 1: “One Land,” from One Land, One River, One People; Traditional’s “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel”; Barber’s Adagio for Strings; Smallwood’s “Total Praise”; and Johnson’s “Life Every Voice and Sing.” Hurry, tickets are going fast! 1:30pm, Girard College , 2101 South College Avenue.

Cultural Alliance Hosts Community Engagement Forum
Want to learn more about community service in the Greater Philadelphia area? This is the place for you. Come learn from various cultural organizations about the importance of community involvement and the relationship between arts and cultural organizations with your community. Join keynote speaker Dr. Arthur C. Evans Jr. as he kicks off the discussion before the panel of leaders in the arts and culture sector of Philadelphia. 3pm-6:30pm, Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street.