Things to Do for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Atlanta

Atlanta's MLK Day and civil rights celebrations are in full swing throughout January.
  • "Homage to King" on John Lewis Freedom Parkway is a source of inspiration. (Benjamin Pete, @be_atlanta)
    "Homage to King" on John Lewis Freedom Parkway is a source of inspiration. (Benjamin Pete, @be_atlanta)
  • Tom Houck (blue vest) was Dr. King's driver, and he leads the The Atlanta Civil Rights Tours.
    Tom Houck (blue vest) was Dr. King's driver, and he leads the The Atlanta Civil Rights Tours.
  • Teens from the Alliance's Palefsky Collision Project perform twice on MLK Day. (Greg Mooney)
    Teens from the Alliance's Palefsky Collision Project perform twice on MLK Day. (Greg Mooney)

Atlanta is widely considered as the heart of the civil rights movement. We commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a variety of ways. A visit to his grave site and the burial site of Coretta Scott King at the the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is always an important way to pay homage to both Dr. King and the movement. Here are several 2019 activities planned to honor the life of Dr. King.

MLK Human Rights Prayer Breakfast, Jan. 18
Hyatt Regency Atlanta
9 a.m. -- Noon
Hosted by the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council, this is the 16th annual breakfast that honors Dr. King. To purchase tickets, contact the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council.

Salute to Greatness Awards Gala, Jan. 19
Hyatt Regency Atlanta
7 -- 11:30 p.m..
The award is presented to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding efforts toward building Dr. King’s Beloved Community. The award recognizes national and/or international individuals and organizations that exemplify excellence in leadership and have demonstrated a commitment to the principles and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Individual tickets cost $250.

The Meaning of Hope, the Best of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, Jan. 19
Center for Civil and Human Rights
7 -- 8:30 p.m.
After viewing the newest collection, guests will hear from Morehouse College President Dr. David Thomas and other civic leaders. This event is free. 

MLK Day March & Rally, Jan. 21
Corner of Peachtree and Ellis streets
Assembly: 1 p.m.; March: 1:45 p.m.
The lineup occurs at Peachtree and Baker streets This event is free. 

MLK Day for Kids, Jan. 21
Children’s Museum of Atlanta
11 a.m.-- 3:30 p.m.
Among the activities are MLK Day Readers Theater, MLK Day Music and Movement, and MLK Day Storytime. Contact the Children's Museum for ticket information. 

MLK Day Commemorative Service, Jan. 21
Ebenezer Baptist Church
10 a.m.
Keynote speaker is Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. There is no charge for this event, but donations are appreciated.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21
Atlanta History Center
10 a.m. -- 5:30 p.m.
Enjoy free admission to the Atlanta History Center and Atlanta History Center Midtown in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Featuring special programming highlighting the contributions and stories of African-Americans in Atlanta, Atlanta History Center guests enjoy immersive museum theater performances and inspiring activities for all ages.

MLK 5K Drum Run, Jan. 21
Piedmont Park 
8 a.m.
This 5K walk/run takes place entirely in Piedmont Park (start and finish at 10th Street near Park Tavern.) The USATF- certified race course and Peachtree Road Race qualifier will be run on grass, road, gravel, wooden bridge and dirt paths through the Park.There will be a 3.1-mile drumline all along the race course. 

Alliance Theatre Palefsky Collison Project, Jan. 21
Center for Civil and Human Rights
11 a.m.

Rich Auditorium at the Woodruff Arts Center
3 p.m.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the young artists of the Alliance Theatre’s Palefsky Collision Project for teens as they explore the issues and ideas that challenge their generation to change the world. 

Over the summer of 2018, the Palefsky Collision Project ensemble came together to explore Thornton Wilder’s play, "Our Town," bringing their voices and ideas together to tell their unique story of Atlanta through the beauty of daily life and human connection in a world premiere play. On MLK Day, teens from the summer project will reconvene under the guidance of playwright Pearl Cleage and director Patrick McColery to create a new piece as letters to Dr. King. The group will present free readings of this new work in conjunction with King Day celebrations at both the Woodruff Arts Center and the Center for Civil and Human Rights. 

The Center for Civil and Human Rights performance is free with paid museum admission. The performance at the Woodruff Arts Center is free, but RSVPs are encouraged. RSVP for free tickets: 

2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards, Jan. 24
Goizueta Business School, Emory University
4 p.m.
For more than 20 years, the Rollins School of Public Health and the Goizueta Business School have honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards Program. This year's speaker is Dr. Sheryl L. Heron. professor and vice chair of administrative affairs in the Department of Emergency Medicine, assistant dean for medical education and student affairs on the Grady Campus and associate director of education and training for the Injury Prevention Research Center at the Emory University School of Medicine. This year's theme is "Standing strong during times of challenge and controversy." Contact awards coordinator Shaunda Shaw at with questions.

Free National Park Day
The National Park Service often waives admission fees certain times of the year, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  
Update 1/18/19: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park will reopen to visitors Jan. 19, 2019 through Feb. 3, 2019 thanks to a grant from The Delta Air Lines Foundation and revenue generated by the National Park Service recreation fees.The park was temporarily closed due to the federal government shutdown.

Civil Rights Tours, Jan. 12, 19, 26
The Civil Rights Tours takes guests to the places where history was made. The tour starts at the grave of Dr. King and travels through the famous (and not so famous) spots that were important to the movement and its leaders. The tour is the only tour that visits the site of the Atlanta Student Movement Rush Memorial Church, the graves of Daddy King and John Wesley Hobbs. Check tour dates as more may be added for the holiday. The tour is headed by Tom Houck, who once served as Dr. King’s personal chauffeur.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications.


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