Activists, community members, volunteers and civil rights groups across New England are coming together Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, part of a nationwide movement to solve social problems through community service. The effort began in 1994 with federal legislation from two veteran civil rights leaders: former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who led a volunteer service effort that has resonated across all 50 states.
A few places across Greater Boston holding events for the Day of Service:
54TH ANNUAL MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY MEMORIAL BREAKFAST
9 a.m. – 11 a.m., Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (or virtual via livestream)
The annual breakfast celebration and commemoration returns this year with a gathering under the banner of “Keeping the Promise of Democracy.”
The event will feature keynote speaker Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, in a community discussion centered around next steps and the promise of democracy “in light of the assaults on affirmative action, civil rights, reproductive care, and protections for LGBTQ+ people.”
Livestream tickets are free and available until Sunday at 5 p.m.
CAMBRIDGE MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY COMMEMORATION & REMEMBRANCE
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saint Peter's Episcopal Church in Cambridge
The City of Cambridge's 2024 Martin Luther King Day Commemoration & Remembrance, featuring readings, remarks from speakers including Rev. Lorraine Thornhill, a community lunch and live music, including a performance from gospel soloist Christina DeVaughn.
GEORGE RUSSELL JR. AND FRIENDS
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., JFK Presidential Library in Boston
Part of the “Celebrate!” series for families and listeners of all ages, the live concert will provide a lesson on “how music inspired and motivated Americans during the civil rights movement” and will include some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite songs.
Tickets are free but registration is required.
EMBRACE BOSTON: FRIENDS AND FAMILY SNEAKER AFFAIR
Sunday, Jan. 14, 6:30 p.m. – 12 a.m., Big Night Live in Boston
Grab a gown and a pair of kicks: Embrace Boston’s sneaker affair returns this year on the Sunday before MLK Day, a new tradition celebrating living legends and exemplary civic, business and community leaders across the city. This year’s Embrace Honors cohort includes Sandy and Paul Edgerley, Deborah and Duane Jackson, Kia and Demond Martin, Angela and Keith Motley, Charlotte and Herbert Wagner and Yndia Lorick-Wilmot and Damian Wilmot.
Registration is closed, but tickets may still be available for those interested by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t get a spot, you can always go check out the Embrace sculpture on Boston Common, created last year by artist Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, commemorating the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King and the civil rights leaders who fought alongside them.
BOSTON CHILDREN'S CHORUS AT SYMPHONY HALL
4 p.m., Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston
The Boston Children’s Chorus will perform their 21st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert.
Ticket prices start at whatever you’d like to pay and are available here.
"EVERYBODY CAN SERVE" AT NEWTON NORTH
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Newton North High School
Newton North’s annual event features opportunities for students, families and volunteers to hear live music and speeches, enjoy children’s programming and take part in service opportunities, including a food drive held every year in support of the event.
Registration is free and required: register here,
MLK DAY OF SERVICE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
1 p.m. – 3 p.m., Vilna Shul in Boston
Volunteers are invited to participate in a community service opportunity offered by Vilna Shul, Repair the World and About Fresh. Volunteers will pack more than 100 bags of fresh produce to donate to local communities in need and learn about food insecurity in their communities.
Registration is free, register here.
VIBE’S MLK DAY OF SERVICE 2024
2 p.m – 5 p.m., Central Square Church in Cambridge
Volunteers Incorporating Black Excellence and other local organizations are hosting a day of service, starting with welcoming remarks at Central Square Church, where Dr. King once gave a speech in 1960. Volunteers will be assigned to the church, YWCA Cambridge, Cambridge Senior Center or Cambridge City Hall to sort winter clothing and books for shelters, make blankets or scarves or create valentines.
Registration is free, register here.
SMALL ACTS, BIG IMPACTS: A DAY OF SERVICE AT THE DISCOVERY MUSEUM
10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Discovery Museum in Acton
Volunteers can make birthday cards and collect boxed cake mix, jar frosting, decorations, paper plates, napkins and cutlery, birthday candles and other “Birthday-in-a-Box” supplies to support Birthday Wishes and The Confetti Foundation, two charities dedicated to creating special birthday moments for children experiencing homelessness or illness during their birthdays.
Free with admission: adults & children: $17.00; Seniors 60+: $16.00; Children under 1, Members, Teachers: Free, register here.
ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM DAY OF SERVICE
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston
Attendees can participate in conversations with artists and activists reflecting on MLK Jr.’s legacy, live music and family-focused events, a drop-in drum circle, storytelling, art-making and hands-on activities throughout the day. Featuring speakers Tanya-Nixon Silberg, Bonnie Duncan, Mwalim “Daphunkee Professor,” Tony Van Der Meer, Aziza Robinson-Goodnight, Jaypix Belmer and James Pierre.
Advance registration is encouraged for free timed tickets, register here.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION
Hours vary by musem
The Museum of Fine Arts: first-come first-served, free with a valid Massachusetts zip code
Zoo New England, including Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo: last admission at 3 p.m.
ICA Boston: Reservation of free advanced tickets opens on Sunday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m.
FREE NATIONAL PARKS ADMISSION
Hours vary by park
Fee-free admission to national parks around New England is offered on MLK Day. Tour the birthplace of John Quincy Adams at Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, or check out antique (and still functional) looms and weaving equipment at the Boot Cotton Mills Museum at the Lowell National Historical Park.
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