Heads up! Another school holiday is headed our way. The city (and the country) observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16 this year. Celebrate, remember and relax with kids — the weekend before or the day of —  at one of these events honoring American hero Dr. King. From a ballet in New Jersey, to commemorative marches uptown and a dance party in Brooklyn, there’s something for everyone here, and options in every borough!


photo: via MCS Facebook page

Join a Commemorative March at Manhattan Country School
In 1966, the philosophies of Dr. King inspired the creation of an independent school where equality, social justice, and a diverse community would form the basis for children’s education. Every year on Martin Luther King Day, the MCS eighth graders lead a march of students, teachers, parents, alumni, friends and the general public on a route they create themselves, followed by speeches and the singing of freedom songs. This year’s parade, with the theme of  “We Will Not Be Silenced: A Call to Action,”” will start at 10 a.m. at Riverside Church and end at 1 p.m. at the school t on 150 W. 85th  Street. Follow the event’s developments on the dedicated Facebook page or the hashtag #MCSMLKMarch on Twitter!

490 Riverside Dr.
Morningside Heights
Online: manhattancountryschool.org

photo: Dance Theater of Harlem/NJPAC

Celebrate the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through Dance
If you’re looking for an inspirational “wow factor” to engage your little ones, the Dance Theatre of Harlem will be presenting an MLK Celebration in both Newark and Queens this year.  The Company was founded in 1969 as an artistic means of turning despair into hope following the assassination of Dr. King, and is known for its excellence, racially diverse cast, outreach and educational programs. On Saturday Jan. 14, NJPAC presents the program, including two premiere works and pieces on the themes of “brotherhood” and “women of color.”  The following afternoon, the performance comes to the Kupferberg Center of the Arts in Flushing.

Sat., Jan. 14, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $29-65
NJPAC Prudential Hall1 Center St..
Online: njpac.org

Sun., Jan 15, 4 p.m.
Tickets: $35
Colden Auditorium at Kupferberg Center for the Arts
Queens College
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Online: kupferbergcenter.org

photo: via CMOM Facebook page 

Celebrate with special programs at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Stop by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on Saturday, Sunday or Monday for programs and events celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. In drop-in workshops from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids six and older can learn about King’s wife Coretta Scott King and make their own children’s book to take home.

212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
Online: www.cmom.org   


photo: via MCNY Facebook page/Cindy Trinh

Activist New York: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Museum of The City of New York
New York City played (and plays) an important role in the civil rights movement.  Visit the exhibition Activist New York to discover how New Yorkers have fought for freedom and equality over the past 350 years. After learning about the Civil Rights movement in our city and activists such as Milton Galamison, Ella Baker, and Bayard Rustin, you and your civic-minded youngsters can create your own protest poster to inspire change for an issue that you wish to see improve. This program takes place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in his honor.  Admission is free with museum admission, but you may want to register beforehand.

Mon., Jan 16, 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Ave. & 103rd St.
East Harlem
Online: mcny.org nyhistory.org

photo: via Evan Chincilla on
Flickr creative commons

Meet Rasheda Ali at the “I Am Ali” Film Screening at Dimenna Children’s Museum
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rasheda Ali, daughter of Muhammad and Khalilah Ali, will join families to celebrate the life and legacy of her father, who left his mark on the Civil Rights Movement. In honor of what would have been his 75th birthday and the New-York Historical Society exhibitions Muhammad Ali, LeRoy Neiman, and the Art of Boxing and “I am King of the World”: Photographs of Muhammad Ali by George Kalinsky, the museum welcomes families to watch the film, which will be introduced by Ms. Ali, with a Q&A to follow.  This event is free with museum admission and recommended for families with kids ages 9 and up.

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at 77th St.
Upper West Side
Online: nyhistory.org


photo: Ray W. via Yelp

Attend a Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
For Martin Luther King Day, this Harlem branch of the New York Public Library is hosting a free, child-friendly Black Comic Book Festival on Friday, Jan. 13 and Saturday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Pre-register to enjoy exhibitions,  panel discussions, demonstrations and meet premiere black comic book artists from across the country. Jan. 13 & 14 , 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
515 Malcolm X Blvd.
Online: nypl.org


March in the 15th Annual Interfaith Peace Walk
Meet at the Holy Name of Jesus Church at 2 p.m. on Monday for an MLK Day community visit to various religious institutions on the Upper West Side. There will be readings ,reflection, music and refreshments at the end.. Families of all faiths are welcome.  You can also encouraged to bring/collect letters addressed to congressional leaders urging support of the poor and protecting the planet.Jan. 16, 2 p.m.

207 W. 96th St.
Upper West Side
Online: holynamenyc.org

Father and Son at Wave Hill Aquatic Garden credit Joshua Bright

photo: Wave Hill/Joshua Bright

Create a family art project at Wave Hill.
Though closed on the actual holiday, Wave Hill will be celebrating Dr. King on Saturday, and Sunday, with the Family Art Project “A Hand in Freedom.” You and your little ones can use materials like fabric, markers and yarn to make messages of justice, freedom and kindness.   The workshop is free, as is admission to the grounds before noon.   Then, honor another icon of the civil rights movement by attending I Go On Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in Song. Starring Anthony Brown, The concert combines songs (including “Old Man River”), narratives, news clips and more. Performances begin at 2PM and last approximately one hour with no intermission.

Family Art Project: A Hand in Freedom, Jan. 14 & 15, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
I Go On Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in Song, Jan. 15, 2 p.m.
Concert tickets: $12-$28

Wave Hill
W 249th St. and Independence Ave.
Online: wavehill.org

Celebrate with Stories and Songs at the Queens Library
The Central Branch of the Queens Library will be holding a free educational celebration for kids 12 and under and their families on Saturday, Jan. 16. The presentation will include stories, songs, games and more in the library’s auditorium.

Sat., Jan 14, 1 p.m. – p.m.
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
Online: queenslibrary.org


photo: Amy N. via Yelp

Enjoy free admission at the Staten Island Children’s Museum
Free at last, free at last, thank God, almighty, the Staten Island Children’s Museum is free at last! (They won’t be charging admission on Mon., Jan. 16 when the kids are out of school.)

1000 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island
Online: sichildrensmuseum.org

“Dare to Dream” at the Grand Concourse Library
Want to start early on your celebration?  On January 10, actor and writer David Mills will perform “Dare to Dream,” his one person show.  Reviewing  the most iconic moments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s career, Mills will recite the speeches and writings of Dr. King including “I Have a Dream,” “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and “Promised Land.”

Tue., Jan. 10, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
155 East 173rd St.
Online: nypl.org

photo: via Brooklyn Children’s Museum Facebook page 

Learn and Have fun at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
The museum’s MLK, Jr.: I Have a Dream Celebration is over two days of culture and fun. On Sunday and Monday, families will learn about MLK, Jr. and his legacy, our country’s history and the importance of diversity, equality, and rights.

Jan. 15 & 16, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m
Tickets: $11
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Crown Heights
Online:: brooklynkids.org

Sing Freedom Songs and Be Active at Prospect Park
Join the Prospect Park Alliance on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for family-friendly activities.  At the Audubon House from noon – 3 p.m, learn about nature, including local birds and animals.  At 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., visit the Lefferts Historic House for Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall (suggested donation $3.)

Mon., Jan. 16, noon – 4 p.m.
Audubon House and Lefferts Historical House
Prospect Park
Online: prospectpark.org


photo: via Sweet Honey in the Rock Facebook page 

Artists Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy: Featuring Sweet Honey in the Rock

Last but definitely not least, if your kids like music, take them to see Grammy-nominated, all-women, African-American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock at the Manhattan JCC.  This critically-acclaimed group blends smooth, soulful harmonies that are both educational and inspirational, and are accompanied by ASL for the deaf and hearing impaired.  

Mon., Jan. 16, 5 – 6:15 p.m.
Tickets: $5
Manhattan JCC
344 Amsterdam Ave.
Upper West Side
Online: jccmanhattan.org

How will you be celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. as a family?

— Gretchen Kunz & Alina Adams