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The best Martin Luther King Day events in NYC

Pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and honor his work as a civil rights leader during these MLK Day events

By Jennifer Picht and Shaye Weaver |
Photograph: Courtesy U.S. National Archives

Pay tribute to the late Martin Luther King Jr. during these wonderful MLK day events. Along with becoming a volunteer in NYC to honor Dr. King's memory, there are plenty of Martin Luther King Day events to check out leading up to the day (January 20). From music tributes to Harlem tours and dance performances, here's what you should do. Don't miss out on some of the best things to do in January, along with other great things to do in winter.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Martin Luther King Day in NYC

Best Martin Luther King Day events in NYC

Brooklyn Academy of Music
Things to do, Talks and lectures

Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For its 34th annual MLK celebration, BAM presents a full day of events, including live music performances from Son Little and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, a film screening of Aretha Franklin's concert Amazing Grace and a speech from Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of New York Times Magazine's 1619 Project. There will also be a community art exhibition, Picture the Dream, featuring works by students from NYCHA.

Harlem Gospel Choir
Photograph: Courtesy Harlem Gospel Choir
Things to do

Harlem Gospel Choir celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Sony Hall, Midtown West

The Harlem Gospel Choir will mark the day joyfully with a concert featuring the sounds and singers from Harlem's black churches. The choir itself was founded in 1986 when its founder Allen Bailey attended a celebration in honor of MLK at the Cotton Club.

Things to do

2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March

This annual march is organized by the eighth grade students at Manhattan Country School. The kids choose the theme, select the route and write speeches about the civil rights issues we face today. Come get a little inspiration—and some much needed hope for the future—from tomorrow's leaders.

Things to do

10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Storytelling & Music Celebration

Grace Reformed Church, Prospect Lefferts Gardens

Celebrate the legacy and work of MLK with a day of storytelling from authors Sharee Miller (Princess Hair and Don’t Touch My Hair) and Anastasia Higginbotham (Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness), music, crafts, and a short film screening. There will also be a free lunch for those who make it out.

Big Onion's Martin Luther King jr. Day in Historic Harlem Walkin
Photograph: Courtesy Big Onion
Things to do, Walks and tours

Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Historic Harlem Walking Tour

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem

When was the last time you explored a piece of New York history? Delve into the epicenter of African-American culture and absorb the connection between New York and the civil-rights movement during this eye-opening MLK edition of Big Onion’s Historic Harlem Walking Tour. Major stops along the two-hour saunter include the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Striver’s Row, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and sites tied to W.E.B. DuBois, Madame C.J. Walker, Malcolm X and more. Meet at the corner of 135th St and Lenox Avenue in front of the Schomburg Center. 

Museums, Art and design

Studio Museum in Harlem


When Studio Museum opened in 1968, it was the first black fine-arts museum in the country, and it remains the place to go for historical insight into African-American art and the art of the African diaspora. Under the leadership of director Thelma Golden (formerly of the Whitney), this neighborhood favorite has evolved into the city’s most exciting showcase for contemporary African-American artists.

Things to do

Martin Luther King Jr. Music & Film at NYPL

Grand Central Library, Midtown East

Watch and listen to film and songs to celebrate MLK's life and legacy, including Highway Into History: 50 Miles from Selma to Montgomery, MLK's best-loved hymns sung by Mahalia Jackson, Martin Luther King, Jr.: letter from Birmingham Jail and more.

Looking for volunteer opportunities MLK weekend?

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