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Observed on the third Monday of January each year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American Baptist minister and activist who helped lead the Civil Rights Movement. In celebration of Dr. King’s life and commitment to nonviolence and civil rights, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) encourages teachers and families to dedicate MLK Day to recognizing and celebrating Dr. King’s incredible legacy and role in American history. And the DOE is here to help!

Below, you’ll find links to family-friendly virtual celebrations, e-books, learning resources, and more, assembled by the experts on our Social Studies and Civics for All curricular teams. This year, they can help you and your family think about this critical part of our nation’s history at home.

Educate and Celebrate

The National Civil Rights Museum presents King Day: A Virtual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday on Monday, January 18, 2021, via livestream at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., E.S.T. The event will showcase Dr. King’s work and the history of how MLK Day came to be, while also examining how the museum celebrated the holiday in years past.

  • The online celebration will feature musical performances by Memphis musicians Garry GoinTykeTKaren BrownAdajyo and many more.
  • Dr. Hasan K. Jeffries, associate professor at Ohio State University and editor of “Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement,” will give scholarly insight on Dr. King’s life and legacy.
  • For young viewers, museum educator Dory Lerner will share a “Small But Mighty Storytime” reading of the book, “My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart,” written by Angela Farris Watkins.
  • The program will also include expressions from museum volunteers about the importance of serving on MLK Day at the National Civil Rights Museum over the years.

To register for either of these livestreams, visit the National Civil Rights Museum’s King Day webpage.

Wide shot of the Lorraine Motel, site of MLK, Jr.'s assassination

The Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.

The Laws of Our Land and Their Legacy

Sign up for free, live virtual sessions on the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s legacy offered by the National Constitution Center. Throughout the week of January 18, 2021, virtual attendees will explore the Civil Rights Movement, the Warren Court, and landmark laws enacted by Congress, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On Friday, January 22, Dr. Hasan K. Jeffries, associate professor of history at Ohio State University, joins the National Constitution Center’s president and CEO, Jeffrey Rosen, to explore the Civil Rights Movement. Jeffries is the author of “Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt,” and the editor of “Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement.” His current book project, “In the Shadow of Civil Rights,” examines the Black experience in New York City from 1977 to 1993.

In addition to these livestreams, you can also view videos of a performance of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, find links to classroom materials such as podcast recordings and essays, explore crafts & activities for younger students, and more right on the National Constitution Center’s “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service” webpage.

Read All About It

Explore our shared American story with the DOE School Library System’s The Time Is Right To Do What Is Right Collection, a collection of 13 ebooks and 2 audiobooks for young people on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This collection is available to City public school students by logging into the Sora app with their NYC Schools Account user names and passwords.


We hope NYC families take advantage of these outstanding resources to learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. King. On behalf of the DOE, we wish all of our families a wonderful and educational MLK Jr., Day.

Banner Photo Credit: “Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr.” by bswise. Used under Creative Commons license. Original can be found on Flickr.

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NYC Department of Education, 2019