10 Ways to Honor the Dream on Martin Luther King Day

Dreams, equality, friendship, solidarity and working together – these are all things that the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us in his short life. Though the story of his struggle, life and death can be difficult to teach to young kids there are many ways to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and his dream in an uplifting way.  Here are ten local celebrations of his life and work that will inspire your kids — and you, too.


1. The California African American Museum is hosting a celebration that honors the legacy of not only Dr. King, but also another great man the world lost recently – Nelson Mandela. These two pillars of peace went from jail to justice. Watch screenings of Dr. King’s speeches and Nelson Mandela’s speech in  Los Angeles in 1990.  Experience music, theatre, and dance performances that represent the diverse communities of Los Angeles.

2. Pretend City is celebrating Dr. King and his message of friendship and love by helping kiddos explore the big ideas and images surrounding Dr. King’s legacy.  Kids explore their own dreams, create self-portraits and learn to work together.

3. Enjoy free admission to LACMA and then take in a tour, programs, art making activities and live music by Afrik Moto that celebrates Dr. King.


4. Head over to Kidspace for a celebration of service, community, and friendship in honor of Reverend King. There will be special activities all day and a performance by Rhythm Child.

5. In remembrance of his legacy, kids can visit the Zimmer Children’s Museum and share their own dreams for a better world.

6. The Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade is the largest parade in the country honoring the late Dr. King. There will be over 150 floats (more than the Rose Parade!) as well as marching bands, military units, dance groups and horses. After the parade you can join a day-long festival with music, dancing, delicious food and performances.

7. Grab a curbside seat for display of floats, marching bands and more at the Peace And Unity Parade in Long Beach. Following the parade is the Celebration at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. The afternoon kicks off with loads of live music, then you can visit Dreamland, an entire area dedicated to our youth to uphold the legacy of Dr. King, where there will be free carnival rides, arts & crafts booth, and another entertainment stage just for kids.


8. Storyteller Michael D. McCarty will present a program of stories from African American history and culture at Children’s Book World.  While you’re here, get some books to bring home about the great man.  Our two favorites are I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson (which comes with a CD of the speech) and My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Martin Luther King III (a book that resonated well with children).

9. Bring your buckaroos for a visit to the museum of the Wild West – admission is free on MLK Day at the Autry Museum.


10.  Pay tribute to early heroes who pioneered the fight for equality by working to integrate the Los Angeles Fire Department at the AAFFM, which is the first (and only) free standing African American Firefighter Museum.

What do you and your family plan to do on MLK Day? Tell us about your plans in the comment section below. And, if you’re looking for more things to do this weekend, don’t forget to check out our events calendar for the low-down on all the fun kids activities around town.

Photo credits: Ash_crow via flickr, Afrik Moto’s facebook page and Jennifer Arrow