10 events + activities for Martin Luther King Jr. Day



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Have a three-day weekend ahead of you? There are plenty of ways to celebrate the life of the good Reverend with the whole family.

African Dance Master Class with Andrea Vinson
Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet, 10 E Randolph St (312-784-4600, joffrey.com). 12:30–1:30pm; $10.
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Academy of Dance (the official school of the Joffrey Ballet) hosts an introductory class with Andrea Vinson. Students can learn a variety of traditional African dance steps while accompanied by live drummers. Though the class is open to all levels, it’s best suited for older kids. Interested students must register by Friday, January 13. Call 312-784-4600 or send an e-mail to reception@joffrey.org.

Chicago Sinfonietta
Symphony Center, Orchestra Hall, 220 S Michigan Ave (630-637-7469, chicagosinfonietta.org). 7:30pm; $26–$96, students $10.
Music director Mei-Ann Chen continues Sinfonietta founder Paul Freeman’s annual tradition of paying tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. with “The Journey, The Dream.” Maestro Chen and guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and music director of Philadelphia’s Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, lead the ensemble through a selection of works that celebrate Dr. King’s pioneering fight for civil rights, and his enduring legacy.

FREE Chicago Zoological Society’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration
Brookfield Zoo Discovery Center, 3300 Golf Rd, Brookfield (708-688-8000, czs.org). 11:30am.
Admission is free Monday, January 16 when the zoo hosts a celebration of Dr. King’s life. The day kicks off with a performance by the John F. Kennedy High School choir, followed by a screening of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Kids are then invited to craft a Tibetan prayer flag, a traditional symbol of peace and goodwill.

Ella Jenkins Kids’ Show
Old Town School of Folk Music, Maurer Hall, 4544 N Lincoln Ave (773-728-6000, oldtownschool.org). 11am; $15, Old Town members $13.
Dubbed “The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song,” Ella Jenkins—still rockin’ at 87!—brings her beloved folk music to the Old Town School. We sat down and chatted with the songbird in advance of the show; read our complete interview here.

FREE Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Dr (773-684-1414, msichicago.org). 9:30am–4pm.
If you’re into exhibits loaded with interactive bells and whistles, this expansive Hyde Park locale is your ticket. The museum’s focus is broad, with permanent displays that include the popular, health-focused new “You! The Experience” gallery, the new whiz-bang “Science Storms,” plus old faves: a restored U-505 German submarine, a simulated coal mine and a glass-covered hatchery of chicks. Illinois residents can take advantage of free general admission on Monday, January 16.

FREE Shedd Aquarium
Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S Lake Shore Dr (312-939-2438, sheddaquarium.org). 9am–5pm.
Admission to original exhibits “Waters of the World,” “Caribbean Reef” and “Amazon Rising” is free to Illinois residents on Monday, January 16. Discounts are also available for packages that include entry to exhibits such as “Abbott Oceanarium,” “Wild Reef”and “Polar Play Zone.”

FREE Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence
Evanston History Center, Charles Gates Dawes House, 225 Greenwood St, Evanston (847-475-3410, evanstonhistorycenter.org). 10am–3pm.
Kids ages 14 and older are invited to joing this daylong course in which participants are educated on the Rev. Martin Luther King’s pacifist principles, taught by certified members of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. Breakfast will be served before the seminar begins; register by phone at 847-475-3410.

King Day Celebration
DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E 56th Pl (773-947-0600, dusablemuseum.org). 10am–5pm; $10, members $8.
The museum’s annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. features live performances, storytelling, films, food and activities for the entire family.

MLK Play Day
Pump It Up!, 821 W Eastman St (312-664-7867, pumpitupparty.com). 8:30–10am, 10:15–11:45am, noon–1:30pm; $10 per child.
All play arenas will be open during this series of walk-in sessions at every kid’s favorite place to party.

FREE Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark St (312-642-4600, chicagohistory.org). 10am–3pm.

Commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through family activities and crafts reflecting his messages of peace and justice. Listen to music that honors the Rev. Dr. King and attend a performance of The MLK Project, by the Writers’ Theatre. This event is free and includes complimentary admission to the museum.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)