It’s been 60 years since Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Find out the best ways to honor his legacy this MLK Day
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” There are many ways to honor King this Jan. 16.—from peace parades to crafting kindness quilts to volunteering your time on this national day of service—but one of our favorite ways is to walk in King’s footsteps. Literally! Stroll through the lobby of the Willard hotel where King drafted his famous speech , stand on the very spot where King delivered his oration and walk by the White House where King discussed the need for a Civil Rights Act while you retrace some of King’s most famous steps in our nation’s capitol.
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Beyond historical walking tours, there are plenty of ways to figuratively walk in King’s shoes, too. MLK Day is also a national day of service. Honor one of our nation’s greatest civil rights leaders by rolling up your sleeves and volunteering your time and talents at one of the many kid-friendly service opportunities around the district. Scroll down for more ways to celebrate the life and legacy of King this Jan. 16 (and beyond!).
MLK Events for Kids in Washington, DC
March in the Annual Peace Walk & Parade
This annual tradition, started by local radio host and activist "Petey" Greene, pre-dates MLK Day as a national holiday. This event is filled with acts of service and a peaceful walk down one of the first streets to be named after Martin Luther King Jr. Historically , the peace parade has been attended by the King family, current-day civil rights leaders, political-types, like the mayor and ward council members... and even a president.
Date: Jan. 16, 9:30 a.m.
2500 MLK Jr. Ave. SE
Celebrate with the Let Freedom Ring Concert
Featuring Leslie Odom Jr. and the Let Freedom Ring Choir, this annual free celebration takes place on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. Tickets are first come, first served (2 per person) and will be distributed at the box office starting at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 16.
Dates: Jan. 16 at 6 p.m.
2700 F St. NW
Honor MLK with a Prayer Breakfast
Hosted by the MLK Holiday DC Committee (the same folks behind the peace parade), this annual breakfast encourages participants to wear African attire while they reflect on the life and legacy of King. This year's theme is Recapture the Dream: Lift Every Voice 'til Victory is Won.
Date: Jan. 14
1901 Mississippi Ave SE Suite #101
Free MLK Library Events for Kids in Washington, DC
Contribute to a Kindness Quilt
If you have a budding artist, let their creativity inspire the community to be kinder. Kids are asked to draw pictures depicting acts of kindness this month at Martin Luther King Jr's Memorial Library where inspiring pictures will be "stitched" into one big quilt in the Children's Center.
After you've shared your art, stick around to check out all that this library has to offer. Inside you'll find a recording studio, a dance studio, a massive indoor slide and a rooftop terrace. If you'd like to learn more about the murals of MLK that grace the library's lobby, check out the information page at the Library of Congress. You'll also find a self-led activity perfect for kids K-12!
Dates: Jan. 1-31
901 G St NW
Enter the "I Have a Dream" Essay Contest
Let your child be inspired by the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and then have them compose their thoughts on paper. Kids 5-19 can submit their original essays (littles only need to write a few sentences) for the annual "I Have a Dream..." essay contest. Stand out essays will be displayed in the library.
Dates: Now-Jan. 20
4200 Kansas Ave NW
Watch a Documentary
Get a glimpse of what life was like in 1965 for one Black waiter in a "whites only" restaurant in the documentary film Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story which documents the aftermath of a man who bravely spoke out against racism and paid the ultimate price
Date: Jan. 16, noon-2 p.m.
900 Wesley Pl SW
Kid-Friendly MLK Day Acts of Service in Washington, DC
Clean Up the W&OD Trail
This annual clean up is a great way to get even young kids involved in acts of service. Meet on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail where it intersects Columbia pike and spend your morning cleaning debris out from the vegetation. Snacks are provided along with a special surprise. This even is free, but registration is required.
Date: Jan. 16 9 a.m.- noon
Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Trail
Restore the Anacostia River
Slip into some closed-toed shoes and get ready to get dirty at this annual river clean up event hosted by the Anacostia Riverkeepers. All materials and tools are provided as you and crew help restore the Anacostia River in to a place where people can fish and swim. Come be part of the solution!
Date: Jan. 16 9:30 a.m.- 1 p.m.
2900 M St. SE
Pitch In at Carter Baron Amphitheater
Every year Rock Creek Conservancy honors MLK by hosting a clean up in the park. This year, volunteers will gather to clean up, restore and paint the amphitheater. Be prepared by dressing your little ones in boots and long layers (there is poison ivy around the theater, so this activity is best suited for children who can be mindful to steer clear of the plant). It's free to participate, but volunteers should register prior to the event.
Date: Jan. 16 from noon-2 p.m.
4850 Colorado Ave NW
Rock Creek Park
MLK Monuments Near Washington DC
Visit Martin Luther King Jr.'s Memorial
To honor the most powerful voice of the Civil Rights movement, this memorial has 15 quotes etched in granite to inspire the next generation. From "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope" on the Martin Luther King Jr. statue to "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice" on the north wall, these inscriptions etched in granite offer a chance for families to collectively reflect on some of Martin Luther King Jr's most moving words.
964 Independence Ave SW
West Potomac Park
Stand in MLK's Footsteps at the Lincoln Memorial
Take a ten minute walk from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and you will reach the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his most famous speech, "I Have a Dream." Step into history; eighteen steps from the top of the memorial you'll find an inscription dedicated to the very spot Martin Luther King Jr. stood when he addressed the crowd of 250,000 on the National Mall. If you're up for more walking, the Willard InterContinental—where King penned his famous speech—is a 26 minute walk (1.3 miles). If you make the trek, you'll pass the White House where King sat with Kennedy to discuss a Civil Rights Act.
Insider Tip: Take part in history! Download the "I Have a Dream" speech from PBS and listen to it as you stand in the very spot it was delivered. You'll also find educational lessons to do at home on the PBS site.
2 Lincoln Memorial Cir. NW