Local ways to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Honor the legacy of the social activist and civil rights movement leader with these local volunteer opportunities and events.

A bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with three other allegorical figures of a man, a woman, and a young girl in front of an American flag and the state of Oregon flag on a pavilion.

“The Dream” sculpture outside the Oregon Convention Center depicts Martin Luther King Jr. and three people who represent the working American, immigration, and “intergenerational respect.”

Photo by Another Believer

Each year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed as a federal holiday on the third Monday of January — Jan. 15 this year. The theme for 2024 is “Shifting the Cultural Climate through the Study and Practice of Kingian Nonviolence,” according to The King Center — a nonprofit founded by Coretta Scott King to continue her husband’s legacy.

If you have time to dedicate to our community, consider joining a SOLVE MLK Day cleanup or getting involved with one of these local social justice programs:

  • KairosPDX | Program ambassadors work to break down structural racism through policy advocacy, professional development services, and hands-on learning at the flagship community school and through family engagement programs.
  • Coalition of Communities of Color | Drive social change by helping conduct research to better understand socioeconomic gaps, institutional racism, and inequity of services.
  • Urban League of Portland | Make a positive impact in the Black community by pledging your time to one of Oregon’s oldest civil rights and social service organizations focused on housing, health, education, and jobs.

Looking for other ways to observe MLK Day? Here are some events taking place on Monday, Jan. 15:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast | 8:30-10:30 a.m. | Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. | $100+ | Join The Skanner Foundation in celebrating King’s life and work with a meal accompanied by live music and speeches from elected officials.
  • “Reclaim Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day” | 1 p.m. | 700 N. Rosa Parks Way | Free | Everyone is invited to join Don’t Shoot PDX’s annual march starting near Peninsula Park.
  • KBOO’s Annual MLK Day Live Special | 1-4 p.m. | Highland Christian Center, 7600 NE Glisan St. | Free with a suggested $5 donation or five cans of non-perishable food | Since 1976, Portland-based World Arts Foundation has hosted this family-friendly program featuring on-stage performances, speakers, and a marketplace. Masks are required.
  • 20th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute | 7 p.m. | Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St. | Free | Watch a screening of “King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis,” a documentary that follows King’s life from 1955 to 1968.

Did you know King gave a speech in Portland? Learn more about his visit to the Rose City and how his legacy left a lasting impact.