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How to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with kids in NYC

Written by
Oliver Strand

Looking for activities on Monday, Jan 20, when schools are closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Observe the holiday by celebrating the civil rights leader’s dedication to service—it's a day to explore your community, and spend time with your kids!

1. Visit BAM for a free celebration

BAM is hosting the 34th annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This free celebration will feature artists, civic leaders and Nikole Hannah-Jones, the journalist who created the 1619 Project for The New York Times Magazine. Tickets are distributed starting at 8am. 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn ( 10:30am. Free. All ages. 

2. Catch a screening of Amazing Grace 

The film Amazing Grace captures Aretha Franklin in 1972, when she was at the height of her powers. A camera crew documented the “Queen of Soul” bringing down the house at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, but this lost masterpiece wasn’t released until 2018. 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn ( 1pm. Free. All ages. 

Photograph: Courtesy BAM

3. Venture to MCNY

The Museum of the City of New York is Honoring Dr. Martin Luther Jr. with a special story time, art projects and a scavenger hunt that takes you through the exhibition "Activist New York." You can explore King’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, and see what New Yorkers have done to make this city a better place. 1220 Fifth Ave, Manhattan ( Story time starts at 11:15am. $20 suggested admission, free ages 19 and under.

4. Enjoy a pickup game 

Join a soccer game with Seeds in the Middle, a nonprofit group that brings gardens to public schools, and Rooklyn International Football Organization, which supports for asylee, immigrant and refugee youth. Volunteer coaches welcome! Sign up here. IS240 Magnet School of STEM, 2500 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn ( 10-11:30 am and 11:30am-1pm. $15. Ages 3 and up; ages 13 and under must be accompanied by parent or caregiver. 

5. Check out an exhibit 

Many of the best children’s museums in NYC are open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and have exciting programming, including the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (Upper West Side,, and the Children’s Museum of Arts (West Village, (Think crafts, dance parties, exhibits and more!)

Why not make the most of the day and catch some of the best museum exhibits in town before they close? These were the new and upcoming exhibits at NYC museums for kids you meant to see but didn’t get to until now. This is your last chance to see the documentary “Apollo 11: First Steps” at the New York Hall of Science (closes Jan 21). Also, time is running out to see “Discover Exoplanets: The Search for Alien Worlds” at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum (closes Jan 26), and the LEGO mega-show “The Art of the Brick" at the New York Hall of Science (closes Jan 26).

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