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Every year, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the third Monday of January.
In addition to activities taking place on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 (the official observed MLK Day), many institutions are offering expanded opportunities on additional dates.
Come join the celebration of an amazing and impactful life at one of these events:
The Cleveland Orchestra | Jan. 12 + 20, 2020
The Cleveland Orchestra is planning multiple special concerts and community events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In January, the MLK Celebration Chorus and the orchestra is presenting a free Martin Luther King Jr. Concert on Jan. 12, at Severance Hall, which will also include the annual MLK Community Service Awards.
On the actual observed holiday, Jan. 20, Severance Hall will open its doors for free community performances by The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, plus many more activities and entertainment. New this year, The Cleveland Orchestra is teaming up with Case Western Reserve University to present “400: An Afrikan Epic,” which is billed as a “journey through music that chronologically represents the Afrikan experience.”
Case Western Reserve University | Jan. 17
The keynote speaker of Case Western Reserve University's 2020 MLK Convocation is Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a renowned Harvard Kennedy School Professor of History, Race and Public Policy and an influential authority on racial justice in America. Muhammad will speak at 12:45 p.m. in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Ballroom at the Tinkham Veale University Center on CWRU's campus. The 2020 theme of the university's annual MLK Celebration is “North Star: Illuminating the Path to Change.” Additional events are detailed on the CWRU website.
Cleveland Jazz Orchestra in the City | Jan. 18
Join the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra as they perform a special concert celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Malt Performing Arts Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University starting at 7:30 p.m.
Hosted by Cleveland Public Library at John Hay High School | Jan. 20
The Cleveland Public Library’s 35th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration will take place at 1 p.m. at John Hay Campus High School Auditorium, where CPL will recognize 150 unsung heroes and changemakers in Cleveland. The ceremony will also honor Cleveland-born architect, entrepreneur, civic leader and World War II veteran Robert P. Madison with the Drum Major for Change Award.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | Jan. 20
Not only is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame offering free admission during regular hours, but visitors can also expect a variety of special activities and features — including film screenings; educational programs about the music that shaped the Civil Rights movement and Cleveland's rich soul/R&B history; live performances; and arts projects including adding to the Rock Hall’s dream wall.
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage | Jan. 20
This free event hosted by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage will feature three special programs including a sermon by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr., a performance by Evelyn Wright Quartet, and a documentary film screening of “Soundtrack for a Revolution: Freedom Songs from the Civil Rights Era.” Galleries will be open for touring and there will be family-friendly crafts and activities.
Cleveland Museum of Art | Jan. 20
Learn about artists whose works were inspired by the civil rights movement, hear stories about African American artists in CMA’s collection, and take part in a celebration of Dr. King’s legacy through art, dance, theater, spoken word and music. Art activities and special guest appearances by Van Monroe, Hubb’s Groove, and the Cleveland Foundation’s Arts Mastery initiative will take place in the Ames Family Atrium from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium | Jan. 20
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium and the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland Inc. (UBF) are teaming up for a community fund- and friend-raiser. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, anyone who chooses to donate $1 or more to UBF, a grant-making organization that provides financial assistance to agencies that both empower and address challenges facing Greater Cleveland’s African-American community, receives same-day discounted $10 aquarium admission.
City Year Cleveland | Jan. 20
Each year, AmeriCorps members and other volunteers head out into local communities and work on service projects. City Year Cleveland's website has more details, including how to get involved. The website Points of Light also has volunteer opportunities sorted by zip code.
University Circle Inc. will provide a free shuttle bus to take visitors to all MLK Day participating organizations in University Circle. The shuttle will run from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and will stop at the following locations:
Image © Kayla Lupean
This year, let’s also recognize the history that Dr. King has with Cleveland.
He first visited Cleveland in 1956 on the heels of the Montgomery Bus boycott, which marked the first mass-scale protest on behalf of civil rights in the U.S. after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala.
Throughout his visits in the '60s, Dr. King would speak with Cleveland crowds at Antioch Baptist Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cory Methodist Church, and Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. Dr. King has attended community meetings and spoken with local leaders in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
He visited Cleveland often during the mayoral campaign of Carl B. Stokes, the first black elected mayor of a major U.S. city. Dr. King continued to work on initiatives related to voter registration, organizing tenant unions, and improving police and citizen relations while visiting Cleveland. One of Dr. King’s last public appearances here was in December of 1967 for a debate at the Cleveland Bar Association.
Cleveland is a part of Dr. King’s story, which is why we celebrate his legacy of service and leadership with a variety of creative programs, service projects, commemorative events, and free admissions to local attractions throughout the city.