Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Ways to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, and Bishop Julian Smith, left, flank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during I AM A MAN civil rights march in Memphis, Tenn., March 28, 1968. Photo: Jack Thornell, AP.

Featured Image: The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, and Bishop Julian Smith, left, flank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during I AM A MAN civil rights march in Memphis, Tenn., March 28, 1968. Photo: Jack Thornell, AP.

There are a number of ways to take part in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy this weekend in Memphis.


1. Volunteer Memphis Days of Service

Volunteer Memphis is partnering with United Way of the Mid-South to host Days of Service January 13-16. Over four days, teams of volunteers will participate in more than 50 service projects throughout the city.

Each day has a different theme or focus:

  • A kick-off event will be held on Thursday, January 12th from 4:00-5:00 pm at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Learn more and register at
  • Friday, January 13 – Youth and Education: Read to classrooms, host a field day, work in an afterschool program or work with Volunteer Memphis on a related initiative.
  • Saturday, January 14 – Family and Friends Day: Special projects will be available for volunteers of all ages.
  • Sunday, January 15 – Service on Sunday: Work with churches and local community centers to serve needs of others.
  • Monday, January 16 – Clean Up Monday: Volunteer Memphis and Clean Memphis will host a citywide project to clean up the community.
  • See all the opportunities for each day here.

2. Carnes Garden Volunteer Project – MLK Day

Additional volunteer opportunities on Monday, January 16th include a clean-up for the Carnes Garden Walking Trail in the Carnes Galloway neighborhood. The project is sponsored by Neighborhood Preservation Inc. along with Clean Memphis, Memphis City Beautiful, and BRIDGES. The clean-up is from 10:00am – 1:00pm. Register here.


3. Be a Service Project Team Leader for Clean Memphis

Take your investment one step further by signing up to be a team leader for Clean Memphis service projects taking place throughout the city on January 16th. Responsibilities include meeting and signing in volunteers as they arrive, kicking off the event, organizing groups, handing out supplies, and taking some pictures!

If you are interested or have questions, please contact Kristine Jacobs at

Join a Clean Memphis volunteer opportunity here.

National Civil Right Museum

National Civil Right Museum

4. National Civil Rights Museum King Day Celebration

The National Civil Rights Museum will host its annual King Day Celebration from 8am-6pm. There will be special museum admission all day long as well as donation drives for the Mid-South Food Bank and Lifeblood with reduced admission incentives. There will also be a full schedule of live entertainment, a children’s pavilion with arts, crafts, and fun educational activities, a voter registration drive, booths for community resources, and food vendors. See the museum’s website for more info. The Museum’s visitor parking lot will be closed Saturday, January 14 – Monday, January 16, for setup of children’s activities, community resources and health pavilion. On-street parking and public parking lots (some paid) are available.


5. MLK Jr. Celebration Livestream Events with Memphis Grizzlies

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Summit – Monday, Jan. 9 from 4-5pm
    • The Grizzlies’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration events tip-off by recognizing January as National Mentoring Month. Grizzlies Prep Ambassador Vince Carter will participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Summit at Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School on Monday, Jan. 9 at approximately 4 p.m.. Carter will be joined by four youth mentors and other special guests along with Grizzlies Prep scholars for a roundtable conversation about the challenges facing urban youth in their own words. The event will be hosted by Grizzlies Partner, Foundation Board Chair and Grizzlies Prep Mentor Elliot Perry. Grizzlies Prep is the Memphis Grizzlies’ namesake charter school in downtown Memphis, serving 6-8th grade middle school boys with the tools necessary to develop a strong educational foundation that will better serve them for the rigors of high school and higher education.
  • National Civil Rights Museum Discussion – Saturday, Jan. 14 from 5pm-6pm
    • On Saturday, Jan. 14, 12th Annual National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award honorees Grant Hill, Steve Smith and Lisa Leslie will tour the National Civil Rights Museum. Following the tour, Hill, Smith and Leslie will join Grizzlies Head Coach David Fizdale, Marc Spears from ESPN’s The Undefeated and other special guests for a reception, presented by Coors Light, and discussion of topics at the intersection of race and sports. The reception for invited guests will begin at 4 p.m. and the discussion panel will follow starting at 5 p.m. and will be streamed live on The panel will be hosted by ESPN’s Mark Jones.
  • Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium presented by the Hyde Family Foundations – Sunday, Jan. 15 from 6:30-7:30pm
    • This year’s honorees of the 12th Annual National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award feature a star-studded lineup of NBA and WNBA greats: Grant Hill, Steve Smith and the second-ever female honoree, Lisa Leslie. All will be honored during the MLK Jr. Celebration Day events, including the newly renamed Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium presented by the Hyde Family Foundations on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 6:30pm, for their significant contributions to civil and human rights, and for laying the foundation for future leaders through their career in sports in the spirit of Dr. King.


6. Join the Commemorative Celebration with Be The Dream

On Monday at 9:30am join others for a commemorative celebration hosted by Be The Dream at The Historic Mason Temple, 930 Mason Street.


7. MLK Voter Registration Canvassing

Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for the right to vote. Join others on MLK Day to register voters from 1:30pm-4pm at Soulsville Towne Center (919 E. Mclemore Ave).

lorraine motel

Photo: Amanda Hill

8. Join the MLK Day Parade

March in the MLK Day Parade in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The parade route begins at 9am at the MATA Bus Station on Main St. and continues on to the National Civil Rights Museum. The theme for this year is “A Great City Deserves Great Services.”


9. 13th Viewing Discussion Action

Join the 13th Viewing Discussion as a call to action to confront the very critical issue of mass incarceration in Black & Brown communities. The doors open at 12:30 p.m. Showtime 1:00 – 2:40  Refreshments & light fare 2:40 – 3:00. Call to Action Presentation 3pm.

Volunteer Odyssey

Photo: Volunteer Odyssey


10. Find more opportunities through Volunteer Odyssey

Go here to find more opportunities, not just for this weekend, but as an ongoing volunteer through a specific organization in Memphis.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Go here to read a guest post by Allison Gibbs on being inspired by Dr. King to pursue servant leadership.

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