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Detroit’s Walk to Freedom

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (center) marched along with other civil rights leaders at Detroit’s Walk to Freedom on Woodward Avenue. The march ended at Cobo Hall where he gave an early version of his “I Have A Dream” speech.

For 27 years we have observed civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday as a national holiday, celebrating his life, works and death on the third Monday in January.  This year on Jan. 21, states nationwide will commemorate Dr. King’s legacy. The second inauguration of the first Black president, Barack Obama, will also be held on the same day. We can give thanks to Congressman John Conyers, musician Stevie Wonder, labor unions and the six million citizens who signed petitions to pass the law to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday, the first private citizen to have this honor. Although MLK Day was signed into law in 1983 and first observed in January 1986, all 50 states did not recognize the day as an official holiday until the year 2000. Dr. King spent his adult life fighting for the “inalienable” rights of  all U.S. citizens. Just days before his death he had joined in solidarity with striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn.  The night before his assassination he told the striking workers, “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end.  Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through.” King’s words can be encouragement for us today, as we continue to struggle for basic civil and workers’ rights. Some local events celebrating Martin Luther King Day can be found below.  National events can be found at

2013 Detroit MLK Day Rally and March for “Jobs, Peace & Justice”
Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, Detroit, MI 48226, Jan. 21, noon

Commemorating the Historic Great March to Freedom in Detroit on June 23, 1963. This is a free event. For more information call 313.405.2185, visit or email

Fourth Annual Legacy March “From Dreams to Reality” honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School, 3200 E. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48207

Doors open at 8:30 a.m.; March begins at 10 a.m. Tours and exhibits of the life and time of Dr. King. This is a free event.

MLK Day at University of Michigan Detroit Center
3663 Woodward Ave., Suite 150, Detroit, MI 48201, from 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m

Celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Lunch will be available, beginning at 11:30 a.m. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 313.593.3584 or visit

13th Annual MLK Day Commemorative Breakfast
Charles H. Wright Museum 315 E. Warren, Detroit, MI 48201, 8-10 a.m. in the Ford Freedom Rotunda

Doors open at 7 a.m. and seating is on a first come, first served basis; valet parking will be available. Breakfast is from 8-9 a.m. in the Ford Freedom Rotunda followed by a program in the General Motors Theater with an interfaith panel featuring Pastor Jamie Kjos, Brightmoor Christian Church; Imad Hamad, president/CEO ACCHR; Rabbi Simcha Tolwin, Aish Hatorah of Detroit; and Pastor Robert L. Harris, St. Paul Church of God In Christ. Invocation by Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill, Plymouth United Church of Christ. Performances by Armond Jackson and the Institute of Music & Dance at Marygrove College. Your commemorative breakfast ticket also includes free admission to all MLK Day activities at the Museum.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

An exciting day of celebration, service, activities, screenings, workshops and performances on the museum’s busiest day of the year.  Activities include:

– 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Freedom on My Mind children’s workshops and craft-making

– 1:30 and 3 p.m.: Music of the Movement concert performances

– 2 p.m.: This Little Light of Mine children’s storytelling

– 2-4 p.m.: Henry Ford Health System presents Ask the Doctor health screenings

– 3 p.m.: A King Among Us video tribute



– The Table of Brotherhood and a scale model of the King memorial on loan from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., National Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be on display

– Live video stream of the Presidential Inauguration and more!

All activities and exhibitions are free with museum admission.

Wayne State University’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Luncheon
Max Fisher music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI, 48201, Jan. 22,

Former U.S. Representative and NBC News Analyst Harold Ford, Jr. will deliver the keynote address.The event brings together the metro Detroit community to celebrate and honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. Tickets are $10 for the program only or $65 for the program with strolling luncheon.  Parking is free.  Net proceeds from the event will support Adopt-A-Classroom, a nationally recognized organization that raises funds to help teachers purchase resources for their classrooms. For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call 313.577.5284.

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