Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated on Jan. 17 this year, and there’s plenty of local ways to honor the late civil rights leader (who studied, marched, and met his wife, Coretta Scott King, in Boston). From free admission to cultural institutions to a community discussion to volunteer work, here are 10 ways you can celebrate King’s legacy this Monday and beyond.
GIVING BACK AT THE GARDNER The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will hold a day of service on MLK Day, offering free admission all day. Art kits — which will include excerpts from King’s speeches — will be available for the taking, and the museum’s four-part video series on Black American composers’ relationships with spirituals, will be on view in Calderwood Hall. gardnermuseum.org.
BOSTON CHILDREN’S CHORUS At 4 p.m., tune into this free digital broadcast from the Boston Children’s Chorus, entitled “One Person One Vote.” Mayor Michelle Wu is among the guests scheduled to speak at the event, which will touch upon the issues of voter rights for which King and his family crusaded. The music will be from past MLK Day concerts, according to the Boston Children’s Chorus’s Twitter account. bostonchildrenschorus.org.
MLK MEMORIAL BREAKFAST This annual event will look a bit different this year. What is usually an in-person breakfast will be split up into three virtual parts. The Jan. 17 portion will include a “love feast” communal breakfast at 9 a.m., with “On Juneteenth” author Annette Gordon-Reed serving as the keynote speaker and musical performances from the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. bostonmlkbreakfast.org.
MFA OPEN HOUSE Spend the day at the Museum of Fine Arts, which is offering free admission and a slate of programming in honor of MLK Day. There will be music by DJ WhySham, voter registration led by SPARK Boston, and art kits in the style of Ekua Holmes’ children’s book illustrations. Holmes’ survey exhibition, “Paper Stories, Layered Dreams,” closes on Jan. 24, so the open house is one of your last chances to see the body of work from the acclaimed Roxbury artist. mfa.org.
HYDE PARK COMMUNITY TALK Listen to the insights of several local leaders of color at this virtual event hosted by the Racial Equity and Justice Forum of Hyde Park. Beginning at 12:25 p.m., City Councilor Julia Mejia will moderate the 90-minute talk — featuring speakers like Boston Youth Poet Laureate Alondra Bobadilla, and activist and Miss Black America Ryann Richardson — discussing Martin Luther King Jr.’s notion of “beloved community.” eventbrite.com.
DAY OF SERVICE AND LEARNING Community service organization Many Helping Hands 365 has put together a number of MLK Day activities, including a community walk in Cambridge to discuss the Black and Brown history of the city, three conversations about racial justice from Jan. 18-20, and six possible volunteer projects. You can collect food for local pantries, craft Valentines for those in need, and design fleece scarves and blankets for the local unhoused population. manyhelpinghands365.org.
SELF-GUIDED WALKING TOUR Any time until Jan. 30, head to Francis William Bird Park in Walpole to learn more about King and his relationship to Boston with a self-guided tour. Signs with information about King will be hung along the fence of the sports courts, according to The Trustees of Reservations website, and the park is open from dawn until dusk. thetrustees.org.
“ROXBURY LOVE STORY” MURAL “Roxbury Love Story,” a mural of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, debuted last September, but the tribune to the couple is still visible at the intersection of Shawmut Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. The mural, made by Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs, shows the Kings connected by a phone cord (the first time the Kings spoke was over the phone while they were both living in Boston). The mural is located at the former site of the Twelfth Baptist Church, where King was an assistant minister in the 1950s. There is also a plaque listing some of the spots in the city important to the Kings’ relationship.
VOICES ON KING King Boston, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing programming about Martin Luther King Jr. to Boston, will premiere the second installment of “Voices on King” on NBC10 Boston at 7:30 p.m. The 30-minute film — a follow-up to last year’s video — will feature the personal stories of seven prominent locals, like writer Dart Adams and Boston Art & Music Soul Fest founder Catherine T. Morris, about Blackness in Boston. kingboston.org.
AFTER MLK DAY... There will be plenty of ways to honor King’s legacy after Jan. 17 has come and gone. The MLK Memorial Breakfast will have a roundtable discussion on March 24 for Women’s History Month (featuring US Representative Ayanna Pressley), and an awards ceremony on April 4 (bostonmlkbreakfast.org). On March 27, the Boston Children’s Chorus will hold its 19th annual MLK tribute concert at Symphony Hall, which will put an emphasis on the week leading up to King’s assassination in 1968 (bso.org). And for something to look forward to next year: The much-anticipated Boston Common memorial to the Kings, “The Embrace,” is set to debut on MLK Day in 2023.
Dana Gerber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org