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Here's how St. Louis is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2023

St. Louis is paying tribute to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with events and volunteer efforts this January.

ST. LOUIS — Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and one of the most notable leaders of the U.S. civil rights movement. Each year, his life and legacy are honored nationwide on the third Monday in January.

Known for his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963, King played a key role in the movement for civil and economic equality for African Americans from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, according to History.com.

It would take 15 years of persistence from civil rights activists for King to be honored with a federally recognized holiday in 1983 and an additional 17 for the holiday to be recognized in all 50 states, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act into law, expanding the mission of the national holiday as not just a day for remembering King but also one for continuing his legacy of community service, interracial cooperation and youth antiviolence initiatives.

WATCH: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks with KSDK in 1964 interview

Here are some of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events taking place in the St. Louis area this year.

Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration:

  • When: 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 13.
  • Where: Farrell Auditorium, St. Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive.
  • Cost: Admission is free, but registration is required and can be done online or in person at the museum. There’s a $3 service charge to register online.
  • The theme for this year’s celebration at the St. Louis Art Museum is "Artistic Expression Uplifting the Movement." Friday night's event will feature pictures of King and the Civil Rights Movement by Moneta Sleet Jr., and local black artists will respond to Sleet’s photographs through original performances.

Environmental Justice Day of Action:

  • When: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Jan. 14
  • Where: George Washington Carver Farms, 3714 Penrose St.
  • Cost: Volunteer work.
  • Join Goerge Washington Carver Farms and Mission Continues in cleaning up around the farm for MLK Day of Service. Coffee, hot chocolate and sandwiches will be provided for volunteers. Register here.

MLK Commencement Program and Peace March:

  • When: 9 a.m. Jan. 14.
  • Where: King Statue Centennial Christian Church, 4950 Fountain Place.
  • Cost: Free.
  • The commencement will begin at 9 a.m. and be followed by a peace march. The goal of the event is to dismantle hate through hope and empower the next generation to take action against it.

Is there an event we missed? Send us an email

MLK Community Celebration:

  • When: Jan. 14-16.
  • Where: Missouri History Museum5700 Lindell Blvd.
  • Cost: Admission is free.
  • Pay tribute to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. throughout the weekend with youth activism workshops, conversations about race and social justice, storytelling, craft workshops and day of service opportunities at the Missouri History Museum. The celebration concludes Sunday with a keynote address, musical performance and an all-levels yoga class with live gospel music. Find the full schedule of events here.

MLK Youth Fest:

  • When: Noon to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 14.
  • Where: Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Center, 5701 Delmar Blvd.
  • Cost: Free.
  • This community event will include fun, entertainment from DJ Bounce and St. Louis Dazzling Diamonds, food and a serious conversation between parents and children about violence against youth.

Boots to the Streets: End Illegal Dumping & Environmental Racism:

  • When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 15.
  • Where: 3900 Lincoln Ave., East St. Louis.
  • Cost: Volunteer work.
  • Join grassroots activites organization Empire 13 on Jan. 15 to clean up an illegal dumping site and sign a petition to have the Department of Justice’s Environmental Justice Division investigate and pass policies to end environmental racism in East St. Louis.

8th Annual Mid County Martin Luther King Celebration:

  • When: 9:45 a.m. Jan. 16.
  • Where: Barack Obama Elementary, 3883 Jennings Station Road; Normandy High School, 6701 St. Charles Rock Road; Zoom.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Parade begins at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 16 at Barack Obama Elementary, and the program at Normandy High School kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Guest speakers for this year’s program, “How to Achieve A Just America,” include Civil Rights Leader Greg Robinson II and St. Louis County District 1 Councilwoman Rita Heard Days. Register to attend or watch online here.

54th Annual MLK Day Parade:

  • When: 9 a.m. Jan. 16.
  • Where: Old Courthouse, 11 N. 4th St.
  • Cost: Free.
  • The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Committee of St. Louis will host its annual parade on MLK Day in downtown St. Louis. The committee works to drive out poverty, racism and violence in the City of St. Louis and promote voter registration.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance:

  • When: 11 a.m. Jan. 16
  • Where: Touhill Performing Arts Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 1 Touhill Circle.
  • Cost: Free.
  • UMSL’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is hosting an annual MLK observance featuring music, song, dance, scholarship presentations and words from Executive Director and Co-Founder of Black Voices Matter Cliff Albright.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

  • When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16.
  • Where: Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd.
  • Cost: Free.
  • This free one-hour concert celebrates King’s life and legacy through music. Reservations are required.

Urban League MLK Food Giveaway:

  • When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 16.
  • Where: Urban League headquarters, 1408 N. Kingshighway Blvd.
  • Cost: Free.
  • The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis will host a large drive-thru distribution event at its headquarters on MLK Day. Food, toiletries, masks and PPE will be given away to those who stop by.

Bookend - Martin Luther King Jr. Day Event:

  • When: 7-8 p.m. Jan. 17.
  • Where: J. Staenberg Family Complex’s Arts & Education Building, 2 Millstone Campus Drive.
  • Cost: Free.
  • The St. Louis Jewish Book Festival will hold its annual observance MLK Day with a reading of Jessica Nordell’s “The End of Bias: The Science and Practice of Overcoming Unconscious Bias." Registration is required.

MLK Week Commemoration 2023 - Amplifying Voices Through Storytelling:

  • When: Jan. 17-20.
  • Where: Virtual; Washington University in St. Louis, 1 Brookings Dr.
  • Cost: Free.
  • The Washington University School of Medicine is hosting a weeklong schedule of programming, Jan. 17-20, that includes keynote speakers, service opportunities, panels and more. Click here to view the full schedule.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration:

  • When: 4-5:30 p.m. Jan. 24.
  • Where: Zoom; Maryville University Auditorium, 650 Maryville University Drive.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Maryville’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion will host its annual MLK Day celebration on Jan. 24 with guest speaker Brittany Packnett Cunningham, vice president of social impact at BET, NBC News political analyst and the host of intersectional news podcast “Undistracted.” Click here to RSVP for the in-person event or to watch via Zoom.

In addition to the community celebrations, many organizations throughout St. Louis are participating in MLK Day of Service in honor of King.

Find volunteer opportunities here.

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