Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with virtual or socially distanced events

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

The life and legacy of a civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be celebrated Monday.

The idea for MLK Day came about after King's assassination in 1968, but it wasn't until 2000 when all 50 states made it a government holiday. Not just a bank holiday, Monday is marked as a day of service, encouraging all Americans to volunteer in some way to make their community better. 

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at a "We Rally for Freedom" gathering at Cobo Hall in Detroit on June 19, 1966.

This year, Dr. King will be celebrated in various ways around Metro Detroit, including virtual and socially distanced events. Here's a guide. 

In-person events 


Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: Film screenings and other programming, including a museum-wide live stream of the keynote speech by White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon. 315 E. Warren, Detroit. Thewright.org.

Hope United Methodist Church: The city of Southfield and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force host a “Driving for Justice Peace Parade.” Pre-registered vehicles line up at 8:45 a.m. morning to join in the automobile parade, which starts at Civic Center/MLK Drive entrance. After, a virtual commemorative program will be shown at noon on Southfield City Cable 15 and on the city’s website at bit.ly/Cable15. Peace drive is at 9 a.m. Mon. 26275 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield. Register your car in advance at mlktaskforcemi.org

Lathrup Village: A month-long, citywide food drive benefitting Lighthouse Michigan ends on Monday in conjunction with the National Day of Service. Drop off donations during business hours through Monday to the Community Room at Lathrup Village City Hall, 27400 Southfield, Lathrup Village. There’s also a “fill the truck” porch collection on Saturday. Find more info at lathrupvillage.org

Umoja Fine Arts Gallery: Life, Legacy and Social Justice, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with artists Priscilla Phifer and Marcel Stewart. 1-6 p.m. Fri. premium platinum collector’s honors award presentation. 1-6 p.m. Mon. unveiling of tribute art collection. Eight guests permitted every half hour. At the Crossroads Building, 16250 Northland, Suite 102, Southfield. (248) 773-9008. Register at theoriginalartshow.com

Mosaic Youth Theatre: The premiere of “Variations on a Dream,” a new piece inspired by the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. and the poetry of Langston Hughes, on the screen at the Ford Drive-In. 7 p.m. Mon. $25 per car. 10400 Ford, Dearborn. Reserve at mosaicdetroit.org/variations-on-a-dream.

Virtual events


Mosaic Youth Theatre: Two days of virtual events via Facebook livestream will kick off Saturday with performances centered around Dr. King and Langston Hughes. Live streams continue on Sunday. Register at mosaicdetroit.org/variations-on-a-dream


Michigan State University College of Music: A video broadcast of 2019’s “Jazz: Spirituals, Prayer and Protest” concert honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis. Viewable at 3 p.m. Sun. as a live stream, or on-demand after the broadcast at music.msu.edu/event-listing/jazz-spirituals-prayer-and-protest-concert-5.

King Blvd. Block Party: A discussion about the short film “King Blvd” and community panel with Dr. E. Michelle Morgan, Dr. Derek Alderman, Deshea Agee, saxophonist Avery Dixon and spoken word artist Boise Holmes. Virtual event is a fundraiser for the Los Angeles-based youth outreach program CBG Arts. 4 p.m. Sun. Register at kingblvdfeaturefilm.com

Kerrytown Concert House: Live broadcast of the Marion Hayden Ensemble “Bending Toward Justice.” 4:15 p.m. Sun. Free to view, but donations accepted. kerrytownconcerthouse.com.


Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: This cultural institution will host youth presentations, musical performances and a keynote speech by White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor virtually on its website, thewright.org. Register online to view the speech. 

MLK Pancake Breakfast: Tickets to this virtual cooking class with Zingerman’s Cornman Farms includes pancake mix, cupcake cups, recipe cards and a shopping list, plus access to the virtual class. Kids will have an opportunity to ask the chef questions and 10% of tickets sold will be donated to The Conscious Kid. Class is 10-11:30 a.m. Mon. $35. Pick up packets at Cornman Farms, 8540 Island Lake in Dexter, 10 a.m.-noon Sun. Order at shop.zingermanscornmanfarms.com.