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Where to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday, Jan. 17, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks during the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963. Courtesy U.S. Information Agency.

Monday, Jan. 17, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. State, city and county offices, and other city and county services such as libraries, will be closed Monday in observance of the federal holiday, which typically sees a variety of celebrations, community service days and other events honoring the civil rights leader.

But the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has canceled many in-person events for this year, including the Celebration Train hosted by Caltrain and Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Foundation.

A Bair Island volunteer day was canceled due to the pandemic, said Briana Evans, Redwood City equity and inclusion officer. 

Evans said that the community could get involved with other local service opportunities in the "spirit of MLK's commitment to service and learning." 

Every second Friday of the month, Second Harvest distributes food at North Fair Oaks Community Center; Healthy Cities Tutoring has year-round remote volunteer opportunities; and the San Carlos Community Foundation has put together a 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, where participants will get the opportunity to reflect on racial bias and other social inequities.

Here's where to find events hosted by local nonprofits, universities and other agencies that honor King's life and legacy: 

Marcus Shelby Quartet: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - The Community School of Music and Arts presents the Marcus Shelby Quartet celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in an online concert featuring arrangements from Shelby's recent album and other spirituals.

When: Jan. 15, 7:30 pm

Where: Online


The World House Documentary Film Festival - Stanford University hosts a free, four-day virtual event featuring over 30 documentaries, musical performances, interviews and panel discussions that speak to King's vision. The event includes four films from the United Nations Association Film Festival.

When: Jan. 14-17

Where: Online


Also at Stanford: The university presents virtual services, talks and classes to mark the holiday, including:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Multifaith Celebration (Jan. 16, 11 a.m.) Dr. Lerone A. Martin, Director of the Stanford Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, leads a service celebrating King's life and legacy.

CCSRE: Planting the Seeds of Race and Ethnic Studies on the Farm (Jan. 20, 4:30 p.m.). Professor Al Camarillo, founding director of Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Stanford, tells a series of "origin stories" about CCSRE and the history of ethnic studies at Stanford and beyond.

A continuing studies class, American Prophet: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is offered live online every Thursday, Jan. 20-March 10. In the class, Director of the World House Project Clayborne Carson, who was also the editor of "The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr." and "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.," examines the lives of Martin and Coretta Scott King. Tuition is $350.

NorcalMLK Virtual Events - The Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Foundation (NorcalMLK), which typically partners with a number of Bay Area agencies to present celebrations of King's life, has canceled in-person events but will present several virtual offerings, including:

The King & Faith Interreligious Symposium (Jan. 15, 1 p.m.), bringing together scholars and the general public for discussions exploring themes of justice in varied religious traditions.

The Black & Brown Comix Arts Festival (Jan. 17), presented in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library, is part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in San Francisco. While in-person events have been canceled for 2022, the festival's website offers on-demand videos of panel discussions and other events from previous years.


Day of Service and Mitzvah Day 2022 - Youth Community Service is partnering with the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Oshman Family JCC to co-host The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and Mitzvah Day honoring the civil rights leader's work with a range of hands-on service projects. Participants work in small groups on projects addressing issues of poverty, hunger, housing and homelessness, aging, the environment and more. Projects for individuals and families available. The event concludes with an online service recognizing King's work.

When: Most projects take place Jan. 17; several projects take place Jan. 16 or throughout the month of January.

Where: Various locations including Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.

Info: or

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend at Filoli - Visitors to the Filoli estate can catch clips of important moments of civil rights history that will be showing in the historic home or hear famous speeches playing in the gardens.

When: Jan. 15-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Filoli, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside



Pulse Staff contributed to this story.