Top Things to Do on Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Three day weekend, anyone? Yes please! The third Monday in January is officially known as the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. A lot of families, youth groups, and ministries take advantage to squeeze in a trip or a retreat on this extended weekend. So what are the top things to do this weekend? Keep reading to find out!

History of Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Although the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was approved back in 1983, it would take decades of campaigning to make it a recognized holiday. It wasn’t until the year 2000, that all 50 states would recognize King’s birthday as a government holiday.

Today, the holiday represents many things nationwide. It honors King’s legacy on the civil rights movement. As many of you know, it emphasizes the use of non violence to promote social change.

The King Center

A great place to learn about the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. is at the King Center located in Atlanta, GA. Here you can learn all about the history of the civil rights movement and a detailed chronology. See King’s inspiration, his speeches, learn about his education, and the impact he had in this critical, historic time.

If you plan on visiting, they are open seven days a week from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, and offer free admission and parking. You can get more info from their website here.

The National Civil Rights Museum

If you are close by, and are looking for something to do in Memphis, Tennessee, think about visiting the National Civil Rights Museum. This museum holds great historic value, as it is the site where Dr. King was assassinated.

If you will be in the northeast region, another museum to visit is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. These museums are very kid friendly with many activities on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Educate and Celebrate

If you, or your group, happen to be far away from the King Center or a national museum, there are plenty of things to do at your own activity site.

Young groups of kids and teens love to learn! If you plan on going to a camping or winter retreat for MLK weekend, there are numerous books that feature Martin Luther King, Jr. Learn the history about his life, his speeches, and educate yourself and others on the topic of segregation.

For the older crowd (that may not be as sensitive as the younger children to these issues and can handle the emotional and delicate topics), there are movies about social injustice and oppression you can watch together and discuss. Talk about acceptance and tolerance with one another to help kids recognize when behaviors become discriminatory.

Finally, end with a celebration of gratitude! Throw a “Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Party” with music and balloons and even serve some birthday cake! Provide arts and crafts (such as colorful construction paper, scissors, and glue) for your group to create birthday cards. You can display the cards full of messages that promote peace and hope.

Giving Back

Love to volunteer? If you are staying local and not planning a trip, you may find that giving back to your community is fulfilling and rewarding. Nursing homes, soup kitchens, animal shelters and schools gladly work with volunteers to help make the MLK weekend a great celebration for all those involved.

What are your plans for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the three-day weekend?