MLK Day of Service in Philadelphia

After a few gluttonous weeks, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a breath of fresh air and hope, as the city abounds in activities that are educational and service oriented. Whether your children are in school or tagging along, there are many options to keep you all busy, engaged, and inspired. 

African American Museum in Philadelphia

Finish a weekend-long MLK celebration with a keynote address by Dr. Howard Stevenson, a University of Pennsylvania professor of Africana studies, and executive director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative. While you are there, explore the exhibition, Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia, 1776-1876, and the temporary exhibition, Gardens of the Mind. Your kids can also grab a photo with the Phillie Phanatic and right-fielder Nick Williams. $2 general admission.

Please Touch Museum

Everyone loves the Please Touch Museum and on Monday, you can not only explore the standard museum exhibits but enjoy a storytelling session inspired by King’s legacy, engage in crafts, and join a musical parade promoting world peace. Regular admission prices.

National Constitution Center

For a $5 admission, guests can participate in a day-long commemoration including service projects, performances, educational activities, and readings of the “I Have a Dream” speech.

National Liberty Museum

The National Liberty Museum is one of my 6-year-old’s favorite museums. As part of their MLK Day celebration, they are having a Civil Rights scavenger hunt and craft corner. There will also be a screening (at 11:00AM and 3:00 PM) of Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, which explores the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. Pay what you wish.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Professional actors, youth readers, and community leaders will read excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail at 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, and 3:30 PM. There will be an informal Q&A after each reading, where you can respond to the letter’s relevance today. There will also be art projects for children ages 7-12. Bring your old electronics to recycle from 10:00 AM-2:00PM. Free!

Philadelphia Museum of Art

As part of their commemoration of MLK, the PMA is offering pay-what-you-wish admission! They are also leading youth-focused conversations on how his legacy can inspire today’s social movements, from 11:30AM-3PM. For the littles, they offer card-making from 10:00 AM-3PM, then MANNA will deliver the cards with food to people in need.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sculptures

Spend your day finding the nine large sculptures designed by over 50 Philadelphia students that incorporate Dr. King’s quotes. Sculpture locations include the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the Betsy Ross House, City Hall, the Comcast Center Plaza, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia School District.

There are also many other opportunities across the city to volunteer and serve. Check with your local elementary school, church, library, or park.


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