On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, discover MLK events, celebrations, and local volunteering opportunities for you and your kids around LA
Each year, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Americans unite to honor his legacy and tireless work as a champion of civil rights. So when is Martin Luther King Day? MLK Day takes place the third Monday in January each year. Fun fact: King’s actual birthday is January 15 (he was born in 1929). In addition to celebrating King’s legacy, this holiday has also become a National Day of Service—encouraging Americans to volunteer and do good in their communities. So whether you want to celebrate MLK at a parade or spend the day giving back to others, here are all the things to do on MLK Day in Los Angeles.
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How to Celebrate MLK Day in Los Angeles
1. Long Beach Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Celebration
Jan. 14: This beloved event returns for its 35th year to celebrate Rev. Dr. King and the diverse community of Central Long Beach. Festivities kick off at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. and Anaheim St., followed by the park celebration from noon-5 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The park celebration will include a main stage with live performances, a health and wellness area, youth area, and tons of food and vendors.
Martin Luther King Jr. Park
1950 Lemon Ave.
2. Santa Monica Symphony MLK Holiday Concert
Jan. 14: In partnership with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition, the Santa Monica Symphony honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. King with its annual MLK concert conducted by Gary Pratt. The concert opens with Coleridge-Taylor’s Danse Negre and Price’s rousing Symphony No. 1 and concludes with Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue with Jason Stoll on piano. The event is free, but pre-registration is required. Doors open at 2 p.m. with the performance running from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.
John Adams Middle School Performing Arts Center
1630 Pearl St.
3. Minecraft March on Washington (Virtual Event)
Jan. 14 & 16: As part of LA Works MLK Day of Service, this virtual event builds upon the anti-racism movement through an interactive march on Washington in Minecraft and an in-person event at LA Memorial Coliseum. Tour a virtual exhibit of the 1963 March on Washington and interact with civil rights leaders like Rev. Dr. King himself. The event takes place from noon- 9 p.m. on Jan. 14 and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Jan. 16. Advance registration is required and closes at 5 p.m. on Jan. 11. Once you register, LA Works will email a link to attend the event. Access to Minecraft (Java or Bedrock edition) is required. Event details.
4. LA Works Martin Luther King Day of Service at LA Memorial Coliseum
Jan. 16: In 1964, Rev. Dr. King passionately addressed 15,000 Angelenos at LA Memorial Coliseum on the issues of race relations and human dignity. This year, LA Works continues Rev. Dr. King’s legacy by empowering LA volunteers to fight for food and climate justice. The day of service schedule starts off at noon-1 p.m. where volunteers will sample vegan food at booths hosted by local restaurants and learn about local activity to combat climate change. From 1:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m., there will be a keynote speaker, and from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., volunteers will rotate through eco-action stations, including creating urban greening kits, assembling disaster preparedness materials, and making a climate action pledge. There will also be a family zone with volunteer activities designed with kids in mind. Register online to volunteer.
LA Memorial Coliseum
3911 S Figueroa St.
5. King Day at California African American Museum
Jan. 16: From 10 a.m.-5 p.m., on Jan. 16, CAAM celebrates Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of festivities. This year’s theme of “MLK: A Legacy of Service” will include a performance by the Inner-City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the King Study Group, and family activities provided by the LA Public Library. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to RSVP to the event ahead of time.
600 State St.
6. Kingdom Day Parade
Jan. 16: Known as America’s biggest and oldest birthday celebration of MLK, the 38th Annual Kingdom Day Parade features this year’s theme of “America, The Last Best Hope of the World.” If you are wondering what time does the MLK parade start in Los Angeles? The parade takes place at 11 a.m. and provides a festive, family-friendly opportunity for the LA community to gather and celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With over 250,000 spectators expected to line the parade route filled with floats, marching bands, and tons of fun, this is must-do event. It will also be broadcast on TV at 11 a.m. on ABC-7.
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
7. A Walk to Remember MLK in Redondo Beach
Jan. 16: Join fellow community members in a Day of Service by walking to honor the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The walk begins at 101 W. Torrance Blvd. in Redondo Beach and ends at the MLK Jr. memorial located in front of the Redondo Beach Police Department. While the walk is free, event organizers ask all participants to bring a child or adult/teen kit filled with necessities (see website for specific needs) to donate at the event or any time prior to that at the RBPD. All kits will go to the RBPD Domestic Violence Advocacy Program. Attendees should meet at the Pier Sub-Station at 10:00 a.m.
Redondo Beach Pier Sub-Station
101 W. Torrance Blvd.
8. Big Sunday MLK Clothing Drive and Community Breakfast
Jan. 16: Big Sunday is hosting their 11th Annual MLK Day Clothing Drive and Community Breakfast on Jan. 16 from 10 a.m.—1 p.m. at 24th St. Elementary School. This big block party will feature a community breakfast, arts and crafts projects to benefit local nonprofits, entertainment from the Blue Breeze Band, a Civil Rights Exhibit, and Big Sunday’s Something in Common project. They will also be putting together 2,023 winter clothing kits for folks who are struggling. They are happy to accept donations of any new clothing or shoes, or you can sponsor a new clothing bag for $25. All ages are welcome!
24th St. Elementary School
2055 W. 24th St.
9. Leadership Long Beach MLK Day of Service
Jan. 16: For 13 years, Leadership Long Beach has coordinated the largest MLK Day of Service in LA County, bringing together thousands of volunteers to complete dozens of community service projects. If you have a project idea, Leadership Long Beach welcomes suggestions on their website. All service projects must be completed between 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Jan. 16 and be easy enough that volunteers can quickly jump in to make a difference. Projects must be completed within the cities of Long Beach or Signal Hill and have a dedicated leader who will guide and supervise volunteers to complete the work.
10. National Park System Free Entrance Day in Honor of MLK
Jan. 16: In honor of MLK’s birthday, National Park service sites will waive entrance fees for everyone on Jan. 16. Many national parks also host a variety of service projects that people can sign up for as volunteers, so be sure to check the park’s website for any opportunities.
11. Martin Luther King Jr. Walk-A-Thon
Jan. 16: Join the African American Historical Society for a Walk-A-Thon in honor of MLK. This year’s theme is “A Legacy of Strength, a Future of Action.” The 5K walk starts at the Stratton Center and ends at the Main Library Breezeway across from the Civil Rights Institute with a stop at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue along the way. Early registrants have an opportunity to receive one of a limited number of commemorative coins to celebrate the grand opening of the Civil Rights Institute, as well as a family pack of tickets to an Ontario Clippers game at Toyota Arena. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at Stratton Center and the walk begins at 10 a.m. Afterwards, there will be booths, entertainment, and performances. Proceeds from the Walk-A-Thon will benefit the Riverside African American Historical Society’s initiatives. Online registration prior to the event is encouraged, but on-site registration will available too. Tickets are $35 for participants ages 13 and up and include a t-shirt.
Stratton Center at Bordwell Park
2008 Martin Luther King Blvd.