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Happy MLK Day | Here's how you can celebrate the holiday

The NCRM will host several events at the museum in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There are also other events happening in the city. Check here for details.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Each year on January 16, better known as MLK Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is nationally recognized for his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and in celebration of his life and death.

Here are a few events you can attend in celebration of Dr. King Jr. 

Events at the National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) will host several events at its museum in celebration and remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

"Each year on this special day, we remember the life of Dr. King, what he stood for, and why our museum exists," Museum President Dr. Russell Wigginton said. "It reminds us of the Beloved Community he talked about so often, and to see the community converge on our campus reinforces that message."

Visitors can tour the NCRM from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission to all MLK Day events organized by NCRM will be free. Museum members will receive express entry.

Click here for street and lane closures, parking, and other details that may make your visit easier. 

Check out these highlights when you visit the NCRM!

The museum will debut a new exhibition, Tarred Healing, which features photography by Cornell Watson. Watson is an award-winning Black photographer based in Durham, North Carolina, who centers his work around sharing the stories of Black people.

The museum will also highlight the anniversaries of several key events from the Civil Rights Movements, theming the memorable moments in history as "Freedom Can't Wait".

"Freedom Can't Wait" will highlight the anniversaries of pivotal moments in history like the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 55th commemoration of Dr. King (MLK55), the 60th anniversaries of the Birmingham campaign, Medgar Evers' assassination, and the March on Washington, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

There will be live music and main stage performances outdoors by local artists, including vocalist Karen Brown, Gerald Richardson, the Stax Music Academy Satellite Band, and more. 

The museum will continue its annual blood drive with Vitalant to help with the critical blood shortage. NCRM said anyone who donates blood will receive up to four free museum admission passes that can be used on for any day in 2023.

In addition to the blood drive, there will also be a food drive in partnership with Mid-South Food Bank. Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted. 

Fun activities like magic shows, balloon making, face painting, African drumming, craft activities, music and other child-friendly entertainment will be available for children at the Community and Family Activity Tent, sponsored by Wells Fargo. 

 FedEx, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Wells Fargo are all signature sponsors of the NCRM MLK Day events. NCRM said Tennessee Arts Commission, Home Depot, and several local restaurants and business also sponsored the day's events or assisted by volunteering.

"King Day 2023 promises to be a return to what everyone loves about King Day, said Dr. Noelle Trent, the museum's Director of Interpretation, Collections, and Education and the event's manager. "We are excited to work with our long-time partners Vitalant and the MidSouth Foodbank for a day of service, history, and celebration."

MLK Day Parade

The MLK Day parade will begin at the intersection of N. Main and Willis Ave. at 8 a.m.

There will be an opening ceremony. The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will host a closing ceremony at the end of the parade at Army Park at 2nd St and GE Patterson.

The NCRM and community allies said they are happy for the return of the MLK Day Parade. 

The MLK Day Parade has been celebrated since 1972, but the celebration was halted during the pandemic.

Race 4 Reconciliation

The second annual Race 4 Reconciliation (R4R) will be from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at AutoZone Park located at 200 Union Ave. 

The race not only celebrates MLK Day, but it also promotes unity. Participants can either complete a mile or a 5k walk or run. 

ABC24's Jordan Foster will host the event. 

To register, click here.

Lausanne's 10th Annual MLK Classic

The Cameron Payne MLK Classic returns to Lausanne High School this year.

The classic will begin at 11 a.m. Lausanne, Memphis Area Home Education Association (MHEA), Memphis University School (MUS), Central High School, First Assembly Christian School (FACS), Briarcrest, Cordova, Christian Brothers High School (CBHS), Bolton High School, East High School and White Station High School will all compete in the classic. 

The tournament will kick off with a match up between Lausanne and MHEA girls basketball teams. The classic will close with a matchup between Lausanne and against White Station. 

To purchase tickets online, click here. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Community clean-ups

There will be a number of community clean-ups happening across the city. Volunteers can meet at any location to lend a helping hand.

The Orange Mound Community Cleanup will begin at 10 a.m., and it will end at noon. Volunteers can meet at JUICE Orange Mound located at 2363 Park Avenue

The MLK Clean-Up Walk at For the Kingdom will also be held from 10 a.m. to noon. Volunteers can meet at For the Kingdom located at 4100 Raleigh Millington Rd.

WarHorses for Heroes MLK Volunteer Day will be held at 13600 Looney Rd. in Olive Branch from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Why we celebrate MLK Day

King was a staple in the civil rights movement, and he dedicated his life to fighting to secure human and civil rights for African Americans, as well as for all marginalized people groups. 

King visited Memphis in April of 1968 in support of 1300 Black sanitation workers who were on strike. 

The Black sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike after two workers were killed on the job. They demanded their employers for better pay and proper working conditions.

During his visit to Memphis, King gave his last speech "I've Been on a Mountaintop" on April 3. He was fatally shot while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. 

The NCRM is located on the site of the old Lorraine Motel, where King was killed.


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