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28 Ways to Observe Martin Luther King Day in Dallas This Month 

We’ve rounded up events like community cleanups, children’s crafts, and dance performances honoring the Civil Rights leader.

Across Dallas, communities are gearing up to celebrate the 95th birthday and legacy of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 15. As always, there are parades and symposiums. And there are events in the days leading up to and following the third Monday of the month. Discuss racial equity in the city, learn about King’s visits to Dallas, try potentially the best pound cake in town, and watch special arts performances honoring King’s work. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are 28 ways to commemorate Martin Luther King Day in Dallas. 

MLK Center Events

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center is celebrating MLK Day with a week’s worth of programming. Starting January 9, there will be eight events across seven days, ending with the annual parade on January 15. Events kick off with a Day of Reflection, Prayer, and Dedication at the community center. Faith leaders across Dallas will gather at this multi-denominational event for prayers and a wreath laying. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 9. 2922 MLK Blvd.  

Head to the 2024 MLK Celebration Job Fair Wednesday at Fair Park’s Hall of State. Employers from various industries will be onsite interviewing and hiring attendees. The event is free, but be sure to register with WIT, workintexas.com, ahead of time. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 10. 3939 Grand Ave. Sign up for the event here.

The city of Dallas is hosting its fifth-annual Equity Indicators Symposium at Paul Quinn College January 12. The event will discuss, amongst other topics, the city’s Racial Equity Plan and affordable housing. The day’s guest speaker is Demetria McCain, the principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 12. 3837 Simpson Stuart Rd. Sign up here. 

Additionally on January 12, members of Dallas’ Youth Commission will gather in the City Hall lobby to premiere a special Martin Luther King-themed episode of the commission’s podcast, All Teens Everywhere. The commission is also hosting an MLK Multicultural Event for city employees at the same time. The event, which serves as a preview for the commission’s May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development celebration, will include food, performances, and art. 12–1 p.m. Jan. 12. 1500 Marilla St. Learn more here.

That evening, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Dallas graduate chapter, which was founded in 1932, is hosting a candle lighting ceremony at the MLK Recreation Center to commemorate the Civil Rights leader. 7–9 p.m. Jan. 12. 2901 Pennsylvania Ave. Learn more here

Saturday morning, join a community cleanup of MLK Boulevard around Fair Park during MLK Fest. T-shirts and cleanup tools will be provided to volunteers. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 13. 2922 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Learn more here. 

Put on your finest ’fits and head to the Renaissance Dallas Hotel for this year’s MLK Scholarship and Awards Gala. The black-tie party will celebrate scholarship and award winners and feature keynote speaker Frederick Douglass Haynes III, pastor of Dallas’ Friendship-West Baptist Church. 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13. From $215. 2222 N. Stemmons Fwy. Get tickets here.  

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade, put on by H.E.L.P. and the City of Dallas, will begin at 9 a.m. January 20* at the intersection of Robert B. Cullum and Martin Luther King Jr boulevards, by Fair Park. The 1-mile route will march down Martin Luther King Boulevard, turn at Atlanta Street, and head east down Pennsylvania Avenue, back to Fair Park. Get there early for pre-show performances at the MLK Community Center, which is situated in the middle of the parade route. Learn more here.

*Due to potential inclement weather on January 15, the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade has been postponed until January 20. Learn more here.

Dallas Public Library Events

Although Dallas Public Library locations will be closed on January 15 for Martin Luther King Day, several branches have MLK-themed activities planned before and after the holiday. 

Three separate branches will host a “Dream Bears: Rewrite and Record” activity on January 11, January 16, and January 18. During this craft, elementary-aged kids can add their own aspirations to King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, record their words, and decorate teddy bears. Mult. dates and locations.

Other children’s crafts featuring lessons on King will take place on January 10, January 11, January 13, January 16 at Prairie Creek and Park Forest, and January 17. Mult. dates and locations.

Pleasant Grove Branch Library will screen Selma, the 2014 film that depicts King’s famous march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. 1:30–3:30 p.m. Jan. 13. 7310 Lake June Rd. Learn more here. 

Other Events 

For more than 40 years, The Black Academy of Arts & Letters’ choir has performed its annual Black Music & Civil Rights Concert in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s concert features singer and pianist Avery Sunshine. Student Performance: 10 a.m. Jan. 12. $5. Bruton Theatre, 1309 Canton St. Get tickets here; Avery Sunshine Performance: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14. $40. Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. Get tickets here

Dallas Black Dance Theatre will put on a special performance celebrating Martin Luther King in the DeSoto High School Fred Nickels Auditorium. 7–9 p.m. Jan. 12. $5–15. 600 Eagle Dr., DeSoto. Learn more here. 

Learn about Martin Luther King and Civil Rights in Dallas during the 2024 Dallas Civil Rights History Symposium, presented by Texas Capital, at the African American Museum at Fair Park. There will be panels on King’s visits to Dallas and the current efforts of local youth activists. The event will also include tours of the Music Hall in Fair Park, the nearby Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House and Museum, and more. The event is free, but donations are requested. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 13. 3536 Grand Ave. Learn more here. 

Arts and social justice organization Artstillery has teamed up with local poet and event promoter Mike Quinn for a “We Are One” MLK Spoken Word Competition, slam poetry style. Fifteen poets will have three minutes to recite their poems honoring King and free speech. 6–8 p.m. Jan. 13. From $7.23. 723 Fort Worth Ave. Learn more here. 

Spend your Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art’s latest Free Community Day. The museum is waiving admission fees to its “Afro-Atlantic Histories” special exhibition, which examines the political and cultural impact of the transatlantic slave trade and the African Diaspora. The exhibition, which was curated by the DMA with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston  and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, is on view until February 11. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 14. 1717 N. Harwood St. Learn more here.

Over at Fair Park, the African American Museum is hosting a ‘Realizing The Dream Healthy Living Expo’ on MLK Day. The event will include food giveaways, a blood drive (with gift cards for donors), karaoke, line dancing, live entertainment, bounce houses, and more. There’s also a baking competition for the best pound cake. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 15. 3536 Grand Ave. Learn more here.

Just one day after MLK Day, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation will observe its eighth National Day of Racial Healing on January 16. Taking place at The Black Academy of Arts & Letters, the event will feature famed poet Nikki Giovanni and actor and writer Dallas Goldtooth. 7–9:30 p.m. Jan. 16. 650 S. Griffin St. Learn more here. 

If you didn’t get enough from the free community day, then make your way back to the DMA for a performance of Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Encore! Arts & Letters Live commissioned a dance, titled “Echoes of Diaspora: A Ballet Inspired by ‘Afro-Atlantic Histories,’” from the company in honor of the museum’s special exhibition. There will be a guided tour of the “Afro-Atlantic Histories” exhibit an hour before the show. Registration ahead of time is suggested. 6:30 p.m. tour, 7:30–9 p.m. show Jan. 18. From $30. Horchow Auditorium, 1717 N. Harwood St. Learn more here.


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…