On the third Monday of January, the nation will pause to commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Although governments, banks, schools and other businesses will close, the federal holiday is designated as a day of service.
Want to get involved? There are a plethora of ways to honor the influence of the civil rights leader in his Atlanta hometown as the day will be marked by a variety of festivals, parades, lectures and volunteer opportunities.
Take a look at our annual round-up, so you can start planning for the special occasion.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Commemorative Service
The King Center will culminate its week-long celebrations at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Several activists and musicians will pay tribute to King, and the keynote address will be delivered by Howard-John Wesley, the senior pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Virginia. Immediately following, a march and rally will be held on Auburn Avenue.
Birthday Celebration at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Give your kids a history lesson on King at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. The schedule will be packed with music, art and storytelling activities that stress the significance of his impact.
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Jan. 20. $16.95 for children and adults; children younger than 1 are free. Children’s Museum of Atlanta, 275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, Atlanta. 404-659-5437, childrensmuseumatlanta.org.
Family Programming at the Atlanta History Center
Hear speeches, enjoy staged performances and watch film screenings at the Atlanta History Center. You can also partake in crafts by making protest buttons or creating inspiring resistance poetry.
Various times. Jan. 20. Free. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta. 404-814-4000, atlantahistorycenter.com.
MLK Day 5K Drum Run
Start your morning with a 5K. All ages and fitness levels are welcome to run the 3.1-mile trek that will occur entirely in Piedmont Park. After you work up a sweat, you can register your school PTA, church or other groups to receive proceeds from the race.
8 a.m. Jan. 20. $35. Piedmont Park, 500 10th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-889-1142, mlkday5k.com.
Salute to Greatness Awards Gala
Presented by the King Center, the 37th annual affair will recognize humanitarians and organizations that are doing work in the spirit of the famous pioneer. Stick around for the Afterglow Celebration, which will immediately follow the ceremony, for a performance from the R&B group Cameo. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit free programming and happenings from The King Center.
It’s the Hawks vs. the Toronto Raptors on MLK Day. Cheer on your favorite players as you munch on concession stand goodies. You can also catch a halftime and postgame show from hip-hop artist Lecrae.
2:30 p.m. Jan. 20. Various prices. 1 State Farm Drive, Atlanta. 404-878-3000, ticketmaster.com.
Credit: Melissa Ruggieri
Credit: Melissa Ruggieri
Day of Service with The Packaged Good
Contribute to your community by preparing care packages for the homeless and underserved families in metro Atlanta. Make sure you register online to secure your spot.
Noon-4 p.m. Jan. 20. Free. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Atlanta. 917-655-4271, thepackagedgood.org.
18th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project
Grab your toolbox because the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project needs volunteers at senior citizen homes in Oakhurst. Prepare to make repairs and do yardwork for elderly homeowners who are unable to afford the maintenance.
Various times. Jan. 18-20. Free. The Solarium, 321 W. Hill St., Decatur. 770-652-8593, mlkserviceproject.com.
The United Ebony Society MLK Parade
The theme for the 18th annual parade is “The Time Is Always Right to Do What is Right!” It will feature bands and floats from local schools and companies, and a health and vendor fair will take place afterward. Food trucks will also be on site.
If you’re a movie lover, head to Sandy Springs’ first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Art and Film Festival. Attendees can participate in interactive art projects designed to share the teachings of King. There will also be a viewing of the Emmy-nominated animated film “Our Friend Martin.”
1 p.m. Jan. 20. Free. City Springs, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. 770-730-5600, sandyspringsga.gov.
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commemorative March/Rally
The MLK March Committee and Africa/African American Renaissance Festival are joining forces for a rally in downtown Atlanta. It will start at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Baker Street and end in front of The King Center.
1:45 p.m. Jan. 20. Downtown Atlanta, Baker St. NW and Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-939-5340, mlkmarchcommittee.com.
King 2020: Remembering His Life and Legacy
Morehouse College, King’s alma mater, will salute the iconic figure for more than a week. The festivities will include forums, screenings and an exhibit that will display artifacts from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.
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Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
The NAACP Cobb County branch is hosting a gathering at Jennie T. Anderson Theater that will feature performances from local talent.
10 a.m.-1pm. Jan. 20. Free. Jennie T. Anderson Theater, 548 South Marietta Parkway SE, Marietta. 770-425-5757, eventbrite.com.
Hosea Helps MLK Day
All are invited to the Hosea Helps event, where you can listen to the stories of civil rights leaders. Organizers will also be providing free hot meals, clothing, medical services and voter on-site registration.
9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 20. Free. Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., NW, Atlanta. 404-755-3353, 4hosea.org/events.
Najja Parker is the Newsletter Coach for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She manages the newsroom’s free and premium newsletters. Parker also co-curates Unapologetically ATL, a newsletter about Atlanta's Black culture, and produces and hosts “ATL Closeup,” a things to do series featuring local influencers.