So Many Ways to Spend Your MLK Day in Philadelphia

Ways to get inspired and get involved today.

Philly’s Parks and Rec Department is putting on dozens of clean-ups, educational programs, painting and other activities all over town. Just look at this list! If you’re looking to get involved and get your hands dirty, there are a lot of options here.

Philadelphia Water Department offers a number of opportunities to clean up local parks and rivers on the Wissahickon, along Boathouse Row and more.

The Unitarian Society of Germantown (Lincoln Drive at Wayne Avenue) is always active on MLK Day; this year’s programming includes a memorial for victims of gun violence. (2-4 p.m.)

It’s a sure bet The Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence will be busy today. Events include an awards benefits and luncheon at the Sheraton (17th and Race, noon) and the National Bell Ringing Ceremony at the Liberty Bell Center (Fifth and Arch, 11:15 a.m.).

The National Constitution Center is a bustling hive of activity, thanks to a full schedule and a reduced entry fee of $5. Do something good, then tour the museum. Drop Off Books/School Supplies: The Grand Hall Overlook is the drop-off point. Bring pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Volunteers will also be needed to sort the donations. (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) Make Pillows: Sew pillows for use in shelters by Philly nonprofit Women Against Abuse, Also in the Grand Hall Overlook. (10 a.m.-2pm.) Make Quilts: Women Against Abuse also needs people to make quilts, in the School Lunch Room. (10 a.m.-3p.m.) Be Inspired: The NCC also boasts a full roster of learning activities and performances, including performances of the “I Have A Dream” Speech by area actors. (noon and 2 p.m.)

The African American Museum (Seventh and Arch streets) caps off its MLK Weekend with activities built around the exhibit “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia, 1776-1876.” Food and business clothing donations will also be collected by Philabundance and WURD Career Workshop. Admission is only two bucks.

When it’s not a haunted house, Eastern State Penitentiary is a museum and educational facility with an eye on social justice. (Just read this essay by Samantha Hunter, of EST’s education department.) Today’s programming includes three readings of King’s famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.), an annual tradition.


Mural Arts Program / Phillip Adams, Photo by Jack Ramsdale

The Philadelphia Orchestra is offering a free afternoon concert featuring performances by violinist Adé Williams, storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston and more at Girard College (2101 South College Ave.). Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. (1:30 p.m.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Day at The National Museum of American Jewish History (Fifth and Market) offers a busy day of music, activities, poetry and multiple screenings of the movie From Swastika to Jim Crow a 2000 documentary comparing Nazi Germany to the American South.

The Philadelphia Art Museum offers a day of music, tours and other activities. The St. Thomas Gospel Choir performs at 1 p.m., and MANNA will collect and artwork made by visitors to help brighten somebody’s day. (10 a.m.-3 p.m.)

The Please Touch Museum (Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park) and Woodmere Art Museum (9201 Germantown Ave.) are each offering family-oriented programming, including storytelling, crafts and performances by Hip Hop Fundamentals.

Nobody does the MLK Day of Service like Philadelphia, so this list is undoubtedly incomplete. Feel free to tell us what you’ll be doing today in the comments below and stay tuned to @mlkdayofservice on Twitter.