8 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Chicago

With the long weekend coming up, why not grab some friends, head into the city, and take advantage of the many activities being offered? Some help commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., and others are simply fun.

With the long weekend coming up, why not grab some friends, head into the city, and take advantage of the many activities being offered? Some help commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., and others are simply fun.

Events in honor of MLK:

1. RACE: Are we so different?

What it is: “RACE engages visitors in hands-on activities designed to explore race and human variation. The exhibition examines the history of the idea of race, the experience of race in the United States and the relation of race to health, wealth and education.”

Where: Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Cost: $8 for students

2. Chicago Sinfonietta’s Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What it is: Music director Mei-Ann Chen continues Sinfonietta founder Paul Freeman’s annual tradition of paying tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. with “The Journey, The Dream.” Maestro Chen and guest conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and music director of Philadelphia’s Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, lead the ensemble through a selection of works that celebrate Dr. King’s pioneering fight for civil rights and his enduring legacy.”

Where: Symphony Center, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 for students

3. Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence

What it is:A day-long course in which participants are educated on the Rev. Martin Luther King’s pacifist principles, taught by certified members of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. Breakfast will be served before the seminar begins; register by phone at 847-475-3410.

Where: Evanston History Center, 10 a.m. — 3 p.m.

Cost: Free

4. King Day Celebration

What it is: “The museum’s annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. features live performances, storytelling, films, food and activities for the entire family. Includes: The King Day Read On — powerful Civil Rights passages read by invited Chicago Community Leaders, media personalities, and concerned citizens, a musical narrative play; and “Reflecting on the Dream: Black Lives Matter” — students from several Chicago based colleges and universities discuss poignant questions affecting the black community.”

Where: DuSable Museum of African American History, 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.

Cost: $10

5. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

What it is: Commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at this family-friendly event. Enjoy a production of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights by Writers Theatre and a musical performance by the Chicago Chamber Choir, along with storytelling and art-making that reflect Dr. King’s messages of peace and justice.”
Where: Chicago History Museum, 10 a.m. — 3 p.m.
Cost: Free with museum admission ($12 for students). Free for Illinois residents on Jan. 19.

6. MLK Observance

What it is: “Carol Moseley Braun speaks, with candlelight vigil, student music performance and after-reception at the campus observance of Martin Luther King Day.

Where: Northwestern University, 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

7. Justice Is Ours

What it is: The African American Arts Alliance presents “Justice Is Ours,” the fourth annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Celebration: a dedication of dance, song, poetry and music.

Where: Black Ensemble Theatre Cultural Center, 7 p.m.

Cost: $12

8. MLK breakfast

What it is: Eboo Patel, P.h.D, founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, will speak to over 500 people at the 20th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, which honors the legacy of the civil rights leader and celebrates diversity.

Where: Benedictine University, 8 a.m. — 9:30 a.m.

Cost: $25, breakfast included


Other Activities:

1. MusicNOW: There Will Be Blood

What it is: “The stunning score for the hit film “There Will Be Blood,” composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, is complemented by a poignant work by Anna Clyne incorporating Chicago street musicians. Also on the program is an electroacoustic percussion trio by Dan Trueman and a synesthetic homage to Scriabin by DJ Justin Reed and lighting designer Todd Clark.”

Where: The Harris Theater for Music and Dance

Cost: $10 for students

2. OnEdge


What it is: “Adventurous audiences will be on the edge of their seats in this free experimental theater, dance and performance series. The series will feature Chicago and world premieres from national and international artists and companies at various venues throughout the city. OnEdge dives into themes of identity and spirituality while challenging audiences to reexamine life and culture through intense, contemporary performances by emerging and mid-career artists. The series also includes workshops with some of the guest artists.”

Where: Multiple locations, check website

Cost: Free

3. The Best of Second City

What it is: “The Best of The Second City features some of the best sketches, songs, and improvisations from their 52-year history performed by The Second City Touring Company. From the company that launched the careers of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and more comes the next generation of the comedy world’s best and brightest performing hilarious sketch comedy and The Second City’s trademark improvisation.”

Where: Second City Mainstage Theatre, 8 p.m.

Cost: $17

4. Ice Skating at Lincoln Park Zoo

What it is: “Skate past ponies and glide next to goats at the rink at Farm-in-the-Zoo. Warm winter drinks and snacks are available for purchase as well.”

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 12 p.m. — 8 p.m.

Cost: $5 admission, $5 skate rental

5. McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink

What it is: “Enjoy free ice skating daily, weather permitting, on a 16,000 square foot rink in beautiful Millennium Park. Hot chocolate and snacks are available.”

Where: Millennium Park

Cost: Free, $10 skate rental

6. Art Institute of Chicago

10:30 a.m. — 5 p.m.

Cost: Free to Wheaton students

7. Shedd Aquarium

9 a.m. — 5 p.m.

Cost: $8 general admission, free to Illinois residents on Jan. 19

8. Museum of Science and Industry

9:30 a.m. — 4 p.m.

Cost: $18 general admission, free to Illinois residents on Jan. 19

9. Field Museum

9 a.m. — 5 p.m.

Cost: $25 for students, free to Illinois residents on Jan. 19

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