Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day This Year


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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pictured in 1963 at the March on Washington, inspired many people to advocate for civil rights and seek change in society.

Nicole Rodriguez, Contributor

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The life and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have inspired generations of Americans to remain resolute in the pursuit of justice. During the 1960s, King energized citizens of all ages to oppose the racial discrimination present in the Jim Crow Era with non-violent actions. With his peaceful philosophy, powerful dialogues, and tenacity, King played a pivotal role in desegregating public services of the South, addressing the housing inequalities of the North, and advocating for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (History.com).

Beginning in 1986, the third Monday of January has been recognized as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This federal holiday is meant to be celebrated by engaging in acts of service to commemorate King’s struggle for a just society.

King’s fight for racial justice 60 years ago has been invoked this year with the revitalization of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The devastating deaths of George Floyd and others have demonstrated that there is much that the nation must do before King’s dream for freedom rings true “from every mountain top” and for every citizen.

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Americans find themselves living through unprecedented day-to-day uncertainties that span from health to equity to economics. There has never been a greater urgency to grow, learn, help, and heal. Here are some ideas and opportunities to honor and continue the legacy of Dr. King this January 18th.


Donate to the MLK Food and Supply Drive to Benefit Residents of Delaware County

For years, a local coalition of collegiate basketball teams has collaborated to host an MLK Day basketball clinic to engage children in some active fun and to raise money for the Community Action Agency of Delaware County. Unfortunately, the basketball clinic will not occur this year, but Haverford residents can still support CAADC by participating in the non-contact donation drive being held at the Haverford CREC this Monday from 10 a.m- 2 p.m. The effort has expanded to benefit the Ardmore Food Pantry and the Denis Closet and Food Pantry in Havertown. Donations of canned goods, outgrown children’s books, boxes of pasta, laundry detergent, etc., can be placed in either a bag or box for the donation. A comprehensive list of items is available below.

Food_Drive_Flyer_-_MLK_DAY.png (493×662) (d2o2figo6ddd0g.cloudfront.net)


Spend the Morning at Stoneleigh Garden

Stoneleigh Garden is located in Villanova and supports both the community and the environment through its public gardens and preserved habitats. Volunteers can support Stoneleigh’s mission to provide nature for all by tending to the garden’s 40,000 plants, pruning trees, assisting in the removal of invasive species, and much more. No prior gardening experience is necessary, but registration is required.

Volunteer – MLK Day for Nature at Stoneleigh – Natural Lands (natlands.org)


Host a Read-Aloud for Young Readers

Global Citizen, a Philadelphia-born organization, was one of the first in the nation to host and promote city-wide service projects in honor of Dr. King. Due to the pandemic, the organization has created virtual alternatives for many of its traditional in-person activities. Global Citizen and the Read By the Fourth Campaign are looking for volunteers to submit video read-alouds of children’s books that encourage civic engagement, discuss the life of Dr. King, and/or any age-appropriate story in order to further their mission to promote youth literacy. These pre-recorded read-alouds will be posted on the campaign’s YouTube page for young readers to enjoy throughout the year.

Global Citizen | Read-ALoud (global citizen 365.org)


Make Some Tails Wag With Joy

Volunteers can put their cooking skills to the test by baking some cheddar and pumpkin ginger biscuit dog treats for nearly 700 dogs who receive care from the Brandywine Valley SPCA. For craft enthusiasts, there is also the option to repurpose old fleece garments into braided dog toys or to create “feather” toys from felt for cats. The approved recipes and the directions for creating the toys can be found below. Once the toys are made, volunteers can call the West Chester Shelter to organize a time to drop off the package.

Dog Treats: https://bvspca.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Dog-cookie-recipies-v2.pdf

Cat Toys:  Homemade-Toys-for-Cats.pdf (bvspca.org)


Hear the Voices of Philadelphia’s Social Activists, Celebrate Black-Owned Businesses, and Appreciate the Sounds of the Struggle and Hope for a More Inclusive Future with the Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra will host the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert virtually this year. During the virtual program, attendees will meet Philadelphia residents who are furthering Dr. King’s mission, discover local organizations dedicated to elevating the community, and enjoy powerful pieces, such as James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” This evening is guaranteed to inspire support for local individuals and organizations working to create a fair and fulfilling atmosphere for all and to further reflect on the art, orations, and music that emerged during the 20th-century fight for justice. Visit the Philadelphia Orchestra’s website for a complete list of performances and speakers and to reserve a free ticket.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert – PhilOrch


Join the Constitution Center to Examine how the Civil Rights Movement Transformed the Landscape of American Law and Society

This free webinar is a great way to reflect on the work of Dr. King and other Civil Rights Era activists. Through the expertise of Hasan Jeffries, a professor of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement at Ohio State University, participants will analyze how actions turned into legislation and change during the 1960s. With a new understanding of how the public influences the Supreme Court and how the Supreme Court affects the public, students will leave this seminar feeling empowered. Various sessions are planned to engage learners of all ages.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Programs and Resources – National Constitution Center


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