Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Los Angeles

Celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at the LA Memorial Coliseum
Martin Luther King at the LA Memorial Coliseum in May 1964 | Photo: Jay A. Brown, courtesy of the Brown family

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. The holiday is observed on the third Monday in January of each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. Dr. King was a key figure and spokesman in the Civil Rights Movement. He received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

Read on for a guide to Los Angeles events that celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The following MLK Day events take place on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 unless otherwise noted.

Kingdom Day Parade
Kingdom Day Parade | Photo: ABC7

39th Annual Kingdom Day Parade

Presented by the Congress Of Racial Equality of California (CORE-CA), the Kingdom Day Parade is regarded as "the world's largest and longest-running life celebration" of Martin Luther King Jr. With the theme "Can't Stop, Won't Stop, Going to the Promised Land" the 39th edition of the parade is taking place on Monday, January 15 from 10am to 2pm and will be televised live on ABC 7.

The parade route starts at Western Avenue and runs west along Martin Luther King Boulevard, turns south on Crenshaw Boulevard, then east on Vernon Avenue before it ends at Leimert Park. The post-parade festival at Leimert Park features music, dancing, food and more.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at the LA Memorial Coliseum
Martin Luther King at the LA Memorial Coliseum in May 1964 | Photo: Jay A. Brown, courtesy of the Brown family

MLK Volunteer Festival - LA Coliseum

In May 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. passionately and persuasively addressed 15,000 Angelenos on the issues of race relations and human dignity at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, which transformed Martin Luther King Jr. Day into a national day dedicated to volunteer service in honor of Dr. King's legacy.

L.A. Works will continue its long tradition of honoring Dr. King’s legacy with the MLK 2024 Volunteer Festival: Take Action to Support our Beloved Community. Taking place from noon to 4pm, this event for thousands of volunteers will feature hands-on activities for participants to address needs within the areas of Homelessness, Education Equity, Food Insecurity, and Economic Opportunity.


For more volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles, check out our guide.

"Dream" at Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen in Inglewood
"Dream" at Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen | Photo: Eventbrite

"Dream" - Dulan's

Presented by Hannibal Media Group, "Dream" will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with spoken word, acoustic soul and conscious cinema. Taking place from 3pm to 7pm at Dulan's Soul Food Kitchen in Inglewood, "Dream" includes We Are Because They Were, a short documentary that highlights a pilgrimage to Ghana inside the slave market, the slave river and the slave dungeons. Tickets to "Dream" are $10 and on sale at Eventbrite.

"The Bus" (1965) at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
"The Bus" (1965) | Photo: Academy Museum

"Documenting a Movement" - Academy Museum

Ninety-five years after Martin Luther King Jr. was born, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures pays tribute to his impact and legacy with "Documenting a Movement," featuring two films that showcase the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

In the historic short film The March, filmmaker James Blue documents this significant moment with more than a dozen camera and sound technicians capturing over 11 hours of footage and audio, culminating at the nation’s capital with Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

For the feature film The Bus, activist filmmaker Haskell Wexler boarded a bus in San Francisco with a group of Black and white activists to embark on the three-day, cross-country journey to Washington D.C. to join the March.

Following the two films, UCLA scholar Ellen Scott, local activist Ben Caldwell, along with two emerging filmmakers who participated in the Academy Museum's Promise workshops, will discuss the enduring importance of speaking truth to power through the documentation of political movements.

Martin Luther King Jr. and others marching in Selma, Alabama ca. 1965
L to R: John Lewis, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. Martin Luther King, Ralph Bunche, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Selma, Alabama | Photo: ©1965 Matt Herron, Courtesy CDEA

MLK Day - Skirball Cultural Center

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and in honor of the legacy of Dr. King, the Skirball Cultural Center is opening its doors and offering FREE admission to This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, which includes General Admission and access to the rest of the Museum. The exhibition showcases rarely-seen photos of Dr. King alongside more than 150 photographs taken by Movement insiders who chronicled the fight for civil rights.

Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles
Photo: Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles

"Lift Every Voice" - Skirball Cultural Center (Jan. 13, 2024)

On Saturday, January 13, the Skirball Cultural Center welcomes the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA) for "Lift Every Voice," an uplifting evening honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Founded in 2009, ICYOLA is the largest Black majority orchestra in the nation. ICYOLA teaches inner-city youth the great music of the world and provides opportunities for its youth to perform that music in LA's greatest arts settings.

During "Lift Every Voice," more than one hundred musicians and choir singers will raise their instruments and voices in song to honor the memory of MLK's commitment to delivering civil rights for Black America.

Camille A. Brown & Dancers: "Ink" at The Wallis
Camille A. Brown & Dancers: "Ink" | Photo: The Wallis

Camille A. Brown & Dancers: "Ink" - The Wallis (Jan. 12-13, 2024)

Since opening its doors in October 2013, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has produced and presented more than 400 performing arts and family entertainment programs.

On Saturday and Sunday, January 12-13, Camille A. Brown & Dancers present ink, an exploration of self-empowerment, Black love, brotherhood, and resilience that examines aspects of Black life that are too often appropriated, rewritten, or silenced. Brown made history this past year as the first Black director in the history of the MET opera and the first Black female to be nominated for a Tony Award as both director and choreographer for a play on Broadway (For Colored Girls).

With traditional African rhythms at its center, ink weaves together African American social dance, African, tap, jazz, modern and hip-hop movement to lift up and celebrate Black lives, Black resilience and Black superpowers.