The kids just got back in school, but another day off is on the horizon. The city (and the country) observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21 this year, and his words and wisdom are as relevant as ever. Celebrate, remember and relax with kids — the weekend before or the day of — at one of these events honoring American hero Dr. King. 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. It’s been happening for more than three decades—join in this year!
Mon., Jan 21, time and route TBD
490 Riverside Dr.
photo: Repair the World Facebook page
MLK Day is a national day of service, when communities come together to help those in need. It can be hard to find volunteer opportunities to do together as a family, but non-profit Repair the World has organized numerous volunteer events the weekend before the holiday, and the day of, in Harlem and Brooklyn, many of which are open to all ages. (Check the individual write-ups for specific age recommendations.) Assemble baby care or sensory kits, help prepare a community garden for spring, help assemble food packages, and more! Find the one right for you at: werepair.org/nyc-mlk-day
The NYC Parks Department is also hosting volunteer events cleaning up beaches and parks throughout the boroughs. Click here for info on what’s happening where.
Brooklyn’s Little Essentials warehouse is hosting an MLK volunteer event with during which kids 10 and older and can help assemble wellness kits. Shifts are 1.5 hours and space is limited. Register here.
Additional opportunities can be found at Points of Light’s All for Good volunteer event search engine.
photo: via CeCe Winans Facebook page
Celebrate the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with Gospel
Twelve-time Grammy winner CeCe Winans headlines this annual celebration in song, which also includes acts Anthony Brown and and JJ Hairston, among others.
Fri., Jan. 18, 8 p.m.
NJPAC Prudential Hall
1 Center St.
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. Kids can honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and take part in the creation of the annual Martin’s Mosaic, a community art installation. Those ages six and up can drop-in to make Blessings Bags, filled with non-perishable essentials to be donated to people in need. A special treat, the World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir will perform at 2 and 3 p.m.
Jan. 19-21, events and activities throughout the day
212 W. 83rd St.
Upper West Side
photo: via MCNY Facebook page/Cindy Trinh
Celebrate Activism at the Museum of the City of New York
Learn more about New Yorker’s fighting for change in the past and present day and check out the museum’s exhibit Activist New York. Visitors can take inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement and current activist organizations to create their own protest poster advocating positive change on an issue.
Family programs are free with museum admission and for members, geared to families with children ages 6-12 years old. Activities are designed for adults and children to complete together. Registration suggested but not required.
Mon., Jan. 19, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Ave. & 103rd St.
Online: mcny.org nyhistory.org
photo: Dimenna Children’s History Museum
“Meet” Some of Harlem’s First Movers and Shakers at the New-York Historical Society
History comes alive at the museum’s Living History Days, and the latest is spotlighting “Founding Black Harlem.” For MLK weekend and the holiday, visitors can meet and greet with some of Harlem’s notable early-20th century residents. Historical reenactors bring to life people such as successful businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker, and members of the 369th Regiment, or the Harlem Hellfighters, including Vertner W. Tandy, New York’s first black registered architect.
Jan. 19-21, Noon-4 p.m.
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West at 77th St.
Upper West Side
photo: Schomburg Center for Research via Facebook
Attend the 7th Annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Back for a 7th year, this Harlem branch of the New York Public Library is hosting its free, child-friendly Black Comic Book Festival on Friday and Saturday. Pre-register to enjoy exhibitions, panel discussions, demonstrations and meet premiere black comic book artists from across the country. Plus: Cosplay and lots of cool merch!
Fri., Jan. 18, Noon-7:30 p.m. & Sat., 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
515 Malcolm X Blvd.
photo: Wave Hill/Joshua Bright
Create a Freedom Quilt 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 of creating personal Freedom Quilts.
In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the Gee’s Bend Community in rural Alabama and the Freedom Quilting Bee was established. These now-famous quilts would later go on to fund aspects of the community’s freedom. Create your own brilliant, improvisational compositions out of bountiful squares of donated fabric, just for the joy of it and to honor Dr. King’s birthday and the inspiring women quilters of Gee’s Bend.
Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.
Sat., Jan. 19 & Sun. Jan. 20, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
W 249th St. and Independence Ave.
photo: Matthew Hunt via Flickr
Celebrate with Stories and Songs at the Queens Library
Head to the Central Branch of the Queens Library in Jamaica for a family-friendly celebration of Dr. King with Joy Kelly, who will share a memorable story about the leader.
Sat., Jan 19, Noon- 2 p.m.
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
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. 19, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. when the kids are out of school.) Visitors can also celebrate the holiday at a storytime with the book “Martin’s Big Words”, then make a sign with their dreams for mankind.
1000 Richmond Terr.
photo: via Brooklyn Children’s Museum Facebook page
Create and Learn at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Kids young and old can explore themes of social justice at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. At 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., the museum’s new Advocacy Lab enlists art, sculpture, sensory exploration, and literacy to engage and empower kids two to six, and at 2 and 3 p.m., 826NYC will help kids ages three and up explore the power of writing to make the world a better place.
Jan. 19 & 20
145 Brooklyn Ave.
photo: via Prospect Park Alliance Facebook page
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 – 4 p.m, learn about nature, including local birds and park plants, meet the center’s animals, and take in a Bird Nerd game hour!
At 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., visit the Lefferts Historic House for Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall (free, but advance registration is required; suggested donation $3.)
Got older kids and love tennis? Check out the MLK Jr. Day at the Tennis Center, where $80 gets you three hours of drills and match play. Advance registration is required.
Tammy Hall: Mon., Jan. 19, 2 & 3 p.m.
Lefferts Historic House
Nature Exploration at Prospect Park Audubon Center, Noon – 4 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Tennis Center
Jan. 21, 1 – 4p.m.
50 Parkside Ave.
— Gretchen Kunz & Alina Adams