Martin Luther King, Jr. left us with so many memorable quotes. One of them is at the heart of what his holiday is all about: volunteering.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” he once said, “You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
People also observe the holiday by attending community events, reading books about King’s life and legacy and watching educationally enriching movies or documentaries.
Despite the expected snow and brutally cold temps, you can participate in various activities in the Chicagoland area this holiday weekend that embody what King was all about.
Below are some notable events you can do to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend.
UPDATE: Some events have been canceled or postponed due to severe weather.
2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Tournament (1/15) (THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED)
The inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Tournament will feature over 50 CPS 7th and 8th Grade Boys and Girls teams flashing their skills on the court. This first-ever event is hosted by the Office of Sports Administration of Chicago Public Schools and the CPS SCORE! Elementary Sports Program.
2024 MLK Commemoration at Northwestern University (1/15 and 1/16)
This two-day event includes a candlelight vigil by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity on Monday (1/15) and a keynote event on Tuesday (1/16) featuring New York Times Bestselling author and King biographer Jonathan Eig in conversation with Charles Whitaker.
4th Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday Luncheon and Awards Celebration (1/15)
Pastor Andrew Singleton, the Senior Pastor of Victory Apostolic Church and the Victory Community Coalition, hosts the 4th Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday Luncheon and Awards Celebration. Over 700 elected officials, clergy leaders, business figures, and residents will be on hand to honor 10 African American luminaries.
The Grammy-nominated poet, writer, activist and filmmaker Kevin Powell will be the featured guest at this free event at The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center. Copies of Powell’s book, “The Kevin Powell Reader,” will be available for sale.
Black Creativity returns to the Museum of Science and Industry with the debut of the acclaimed Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition and Black Creativity Family Day. The Juried Art Exhibition, the longest continuously running exhibition of African American art in the U.S., features more than 150 works from more than 100 different Black and African-American artists from across the country.
The National Park Service and Friends of Indiana Dunes hosts this annual food drive at the Paul H Douglas Center for Environmental Education in Gary. You are encouraged to bring canned or other non-perishable foods to the Paul H. Douglas Center parking lot or the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center. Park staff will be there to collect it.
The Pero Center for Intersectionality Studies presents its annual MLK celebration, which includes a worship service, lunch and a screening of the film “Otis’ Dream,” followed by a discussion titled “The Struggle Continues…Voting is Our Right.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Chicago History Museum (1/15) (THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED)
This event offers a hands-on history experience, lectures and panel discussions, a youth poetry workshop and musical performances.
This annual DuSable Museum event, in partnership with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Xi Nu Omega Chapter, presents a day filled with various activities for the family, such as arts and crafts, movies, a book raffle, exhibits and live performances from the Azania Drum Ensemble and storyteller Niambi Muhammad.
Teaching artists from the Old Town School of Folk Music will lead songs about peace and justice. This in-person and online community gathering will celebrate King’s life, legacy and words. The program will include songs from the civil rights movement’s heyday by artists such as Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and more.
MLK Day Basic Needs Drive outside Wrigley Field (1/15) (THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED)
In partnership with four local non-profit organizations — Cradles to Crayons, Nourishing Hope, Bernie’s Book Bank, and Share Our Spare — the Chicago Cubs are providing a one-stop donation drop-off for those looking to give back on MLK Day. These organizations will accept food, new and gently used children’s clothing, books and gear at the Toyota Prius Lot at the corner of Waveland and Clifton.
The 4th Annual Classical Music Concert is part of the Village of Flossmoor’s annual King celebration. This concert will feature gifted, pre-conservatory student musicians from the Academy of the Music Institute of Chicago. They will perform works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Barber and Roumain.
This is a day of service, reflection and action. You can join the M3 team to help them prepare for its upcoming M3 Anti-Violence March on Madison. At this gathering, you will assist in helping members by creating picket signs, making phone calls and taking various actions to support the cause.
This long-running gathering, which will be held at the Apostolic Church of God, includes a breakfast, press conference, and an awards program featuring notable speakers, including Rainbow PUSH Coalition President and CEO Frederick D. Haynes III and Mayor Brandon Johnson.
The State Senator for Illinois 16th District hosts this breakfast and panel discussion on food and economic justice. The featured panelists are Anton Seals, Jr. of Grow Greater Englewood and Felicia Slaton-Young of the Englewood Chamber of Commerce.
The landmark West Side church where King himself delivered many sermons will host a community breakfast, along with speakers and performances. Stone Temple Baptist Church, the North Lawndale Historical and Cultural Society and the Jewish United Federation collaborated to produce this event.
This event is an opportunity to participate in various meaningful service projects, including community food drives, nature clean-ups, making lunches for shelters and donating blood.