9 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Chicago and the North Shore

On Monday, Jan. 17, we recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. To honor Dr. King’s life, work, and legacy, here are nine ways to celebrate MLK Day virtually or in person.

1. Cradles to Crayons Chicago’s MLK Day of Service

Last year’s MLK Day of Service. Photo courtesy of C2C.

To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and his legacy of service, Cradles to Crayons Chicago (C2C) will collect donated new or like-new children’s items on Jan. 17. This year’s MLK Day of Service is set to be the largest C2C volunteer day during the pandemic with over 30 Chicagoland drop-off locations and over 145 registered volunteers.

2. Hyde Park Art Center Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

The Hyde Park Art Center will host a free virtual MLK Day celebration Monday, Jan. 17 from 4-7 p.m. The event will include film screenings and presentations featuring Chicago artists and activists following in the footsteps of Dr. King. No pre-registration is required. The Zoom link is available at Hyde Park Art Center

3. United Way of Metro Chicago, Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Join the Untied Way of Metro Chicago for a day of meaningful conversations and service projects. Inside the Chicago Freedom Movement will be the topic of a virtual program “Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day of Reflection and Service.” The conversation will feature Urban Historian and TikTok sensation Shermann “Dilla” Thomas and will be hosted by Tamiya Aurel, chief people and equity officer at United Way of Metro Chicago. Thomas will share little known facts about the civil rights movement in Chicago and will delve into King’s 1966 campaign to secure open and affordable housing and address how the movement has impacted Chicago in 2022. 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. RSVP.

4. I Have a Dream 1M 5K 10K 13.1 26.2 – Participate from home, Around the World! By Moon Joggers

Runners from around the world can run anywhere, at their own pace, and mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in the “I Have A Dream” virtual race. The races can be completed any time in January. 1M, 5K, 10K, 13.1, and 26.2 virtual running events are available. A portion of every registration fee (15%) will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative, which is dedicated to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. Participants will receive a limited edition medal with a quote from King: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” The registration fee is $18 and includes a medal, bib and a 15% donation to EJI.

5. One Warm Coat MLK Day 2022

One Warm Coat is looking for individuals, groups and businesses to collect coats for people in need through its Coat Drive Program. One Warm Coat provides the resources to register, promote and manage the drives, and partners with nonprofits across the country to ensure every coat is distributed. Making a financial contribution or collecting donations is another way to help. For more information and to register visit One Warm Coat

6. The Volunteer Center’s Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service

The Volunteer Center will virtually host their annual day of service while staying ever committed to King’s mission. Volunteers may complete projects on their own, with kits available for pick up that include all materials for our signature blanket making for the homeless and refugees (for a discounted price), and/or a “to go” full project package with a variety of that supports homeless teens, veterans, nursing homes and health care workers. All kits must be ordered in advance by Friday, Jan. 14 at noon in order to have them ready for pick up on Jan.17th. More details can be found at The Volunteer Center’s website.

7. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at The Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum will host their annual family-friendly celebration virtually this year on Monday, Jan. 17 from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The event will discuss King’s activism in Chicago, including virtual tours of the places he frequented, virtual storytelling and hands-on history art. The event is free and the museum welcomes donations. To register, visit Chicago History Museum

8. My Block My Hood My City’s MLK Day of Service

My Block My Hood My City will honor Dr. King through a day of service helping those most at risk during this winter season. On Monday, Jan. 17 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Olive Branch Mission, donations of winter coats, gloves, hats, scarves, or socks for all ages and genders will be accepted. 6310 S Claremont Ave., Chicago

9. Ben Blount Mural Dedication in Evanston

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A post shared by Ben Blount (@blountben)

A new Ben Blount Mural will be dedicated on Jan. 17 in honor of Martin Luther King Day on Evanston’s Main-Dempster Mile. The mural, inspired by the City of Evanston’s 2019 resolution to end structural racism and achieve racial equity will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. Blout, a local artist, will speak at the dedication along with Mayor Daniel Biss and Council Member Cicely Fleming.

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