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Cleveland seeks to remember the influence, sincerity, determination and acts of kindness Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. showed the world during his pivotal life and career. And, every year, the city reflects on the life of King by coming together to express ourselves as he did.
The civil rights leader had a long history of visiting Cleveland. He first came to the city in 1956 to speak with the National Negro Funeral Directors Association at the Hollenden Hotel, which once stood in Downtown Cleveland. He later retuned in 1961 to host a service at the historic Antioch Baptist Church where over 3,000 people attended.
Over the years, King became a repeated guest to Cleveland. And, as his visits continued, the number of attendees at his events grew.
On May 14, 1963, King spoke at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, which led to his famed “Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial the following year. Later, en route to an event at Cory United Methodist Church, one of the oldest African American churches in Cleveland and one that only had a capacity for 5,000 people, King’s vehicle became overwhelmed by more than 14,000 people seeking to see the civil right leader in person.
Regardless of space limitations and increasing crowds, King always took the invitation to come back to Cleveland. Throughout his life, he would visit our schools, churches and arenas to meet personally with thousands of Clevelanders.
Sadly, King’s last appearance in Cleveland was on Dec. 16, 1967 at the Human Rights Institute. He had plans of returning in 1968, but was tragically assassinated six days before his visit.
Join Cleveland as we commemorate what King stood for with our community before, during and after MLK day on Jan. 21, 2019 with these community activities …
Image © Cody York
Jan. 20, 2019 | 2:30-5 p.m. | Admission: Free
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) will host its 42nd annual birthday observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the KeyBank State Theatre at Playhouse Square. The remembrance will feature a performance by 11-time Grammy winner Shirley Caesar, known as the First Lady of Gospel Music, as well as scholarship presentations and student speeches honoring Dr. King. Tickets to the event are free, but must be reserved by visiting mlkcelebration.tri-c.edu (starting Dec. 12).
Image courtesy The Music Settlement
Jan. 20, 2019 | 3–4:30 p.m. | Admission: Free
Join The Music Settlement for a special family-friendly concert to honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Vocal and instrumental performances by students and faculty will feature classical, jazz and gospel styles of music by African American composers. The annual concert will take place at the University Circle location in Glick Recital Hall.
Image © Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.
Jan. 20, 2019 | 7 p.m. | Admission: Free
The Cleveland Orchestra will perform its annual FREE celebration concert to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Severance Hall On Jan. 20. While the concert is free, tickets are required to attend the concert and are available through a lottery system. For information on programming and ticket distribution, click here.
Jan. 21, 2019 | 10 a.m.– 5:30 p.m. | Admission: Free
Visit The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame where music that was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement plays through the museum’s speakers and is showcased through its hundreds of exhibits. Educational programs, film screenings and hands-on activities for all ages will be spread throughout the museum.
Image courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art
Jan. 21, 2019 | 11 a.m.–4 p.m. | Admission: Free
Join the Cleveland Museum of Art for a variety of art activities for all ages inspired by the determined and humble acts of Martin Luther King, Jr. The museum will follow through with conversations, storytelling, hands-on activities, gallery walk-throughs, live performances and more.
Jan. 21, 2019 | 11 a.m.–5 p.m. | Admission: Free
The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is free on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Take some time indoors and uncover the connections between art and the thoughtfulness King portrayed to the world.
Jan. 21, 2019 | 12–5 p.m. | Admission: Free
Severance Hall, the historic home of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, opens its doors to a bevy of community performance groups for a completely free day of artistic expression. No tickets are required. For event details, visit ClevelandOrchestra.com beginning Dec. 6, 2018.
Image © Aerial Agents
Jan. 21, 2019 | All day
AmeriCorps members and community volunteers go into communities to work on service projects. Visit City Year Cleveland's website to get details on how you can get involved this MLK Day. Go to their website, Points of Light, to find volunteer options by zip code.
Home of The Cleveland Orchestra and one of the world's most beautiful concert halls, offers public & private tours. Call 216-231-7421 for more information.
For 50 years, The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) has played an urgent and exciting role in the city’s cultural landscape, presenting the art and ideas of our time. As a non-collecting...
Rock connects us. Our mission is clear: To engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll. We share stories of the people, events and songs that shape our world through exhibits,...
Considered one of the top art museums in the nation, visit for an hour or explore all day; free of charge to all. Renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection. Home to world-class...
Cleveland’s premier jazz listening room. An intimate, acoustically pristine performance venue with sweeping views of Lake Erie. Featuring music most nights, full bar and heavy appetizers.