Martin Luther King Jr. did so much more than put a holiday on our calendar.
His hard work and dedication to racial equality is still unparalleled -- that’s why several venues and organizations are celebrating his legacy of striving for racial equality on Jan. 15.
“MLK Now,” a concert featuring King’s work read and sung by notables including Lupita Nyong’o, Black Thought of The Roots and comedian Baratunde Thurston is returning for its third year.
WNYC is hosting a panel discussion about the progress that has been made since MLK Jr. was assassinated and what we still have to work on.
Or, if you’d rather get hands-on and literally help out, there are some volunteer opportunities to take part in, too.
So whether or not you have the day off, there are plenty of ways to gather together and remember King’s achievements.
All events are on Monday unless otherwise noted.
BAM -- Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave. (10:30 a.m.)
Activists, civic leaders, musicians and performers pay tribute to King’s legacy. Journalist/writer Jelani Cobb is the keynote speaker for the free event, now in its 32nd year and which also features a film, a talk and an art exhibition.
Tribute in Word and Song & “MLK Now”
The Riverside Church in the City of New York, 490 Riverside Dr. (3 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Monday)
The church is hosting an afternoon of readings on Sunday by MLK Jr. and music influenced by his work. Then on Monday, Blackout for Human Rights returns for its third annual “MLK Now” event that celebrates MLK Jr.’s words through performance. This year, actress Lupita Nyong’o, Black Thought of The Roots, actress Storm Reid, musician Tef Poe and comedian Baratunde Thurston take part.
The event is free, but arrive early and register online.
“King in New York” exhibit
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave. (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Get an in-depth look at King’s encounters with New York City in the 1950s and ’60s as he fought for racial freedom and equality. If you follow that up with the exhibit, “Activist New York,” also at the museum, you’ll find out how activists today are still fighting for King’s vision.
Tickets are $18.
“50 years after MLK: A dream deferred”
The Apollo Theater, 253 125th St. (3 p.m.)
WNYC hosts Brian Lehrer and Jami Floyd and WZXR’s Terrance McKnight host a discussion about the progress that has been made since MLK Jr. was assassinated, how things have evolved or stayed the same, and what his vision and leadership mean in our current state of affairs. The panel of speakers includes Dr. Clarence Jones, a former advisor to MLK Jr.; Linda Sarsour, a co-founder of the Women’s March; Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors; and the 2008 Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente. Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens will wrap the event up with a performance.
The event is free but an RSVP is required.
Harlem Gospel Choir
B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, 237 W. 42nd St. (12:30 p.m.)
Have lunch while celebrating MLK Day with this powerful gospel choir that was started when its founder, Allen Bailey, was inspired by an MLK Jr. celebration at the Cotton Club in Harlem.
Tickets start at $25.
“Soul to Soul” concert
The Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place (2 p.m.)
Celebrate the similarities of African American and Jewish history and the their partnership during the Civil Rights era through this theatrical concert by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, both in English and Yiddish. The concert acts as a narrative with multimedia imagery and video.
“Yiddish and Gospel comes from the heart and enters your soul as a performer and a listener alike,” said Magda Fishman, a cantor for the show. “It’s deep and moving; inspiring and uplifting. The narrative of the African Americans and Jews finds harmonious counterpart in many ways that are certainly felt in our souls.”
Tickets start at $25.
“Spirit of Hope” concert
Brooklyn Music School, 126 Saint Felix St. (5 p.m. Jan. 13)
A concert inspired by King’s legacy and message includes selections from Lester Lynch’s recent recording of “On My Journey Now: Spirituals & Hymns” and performances by BMS faculty and staff.
Tickets are $5.
“Hands On: Harlem Dreams, Legends and Legacy”
Studio Museum Harlem, 144 W. 125th St. (2 p.m.)
Make art while celebrating MLK Jr. at this Harlem studio workshop that includes classes in making time capsules, mixed-media art and collage. The event is part of “Last Look,” a four-day celebration of art and artists.
Tickets are free.
MLK day of learning, service action
The Workmen’s Circle, 247 W. 37th St. (10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Get a firsthand look at today’s struggles for racial and economic justice through storie,s song and service. After a program highlighting women’s voices and leadership, you’ll prepare food for the New York Common Pantry and make signs for the Jan. 20 Women’s March.
The event is free.
Day of Service with the Parks Department
Ferry Point Park, Off Hutchinson River Parkway, Bronx (9 a.m. to noon)
Help the city’s parks department clean up the park, or meet at 119th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem to give some TLC to street trees.
Lovecraft Films: MLK Day
Lovecraft NYC, 50 Avenue B (6 to 9:30 p.m.)
Filmmakers and musicians will gather for live music, monologues and more to network and work together to help end child trafficking.
Tickets are $5 (with a one-drink minimum) and includes a Q&A.