The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Jan. 19, 11-12:30 p.m. and 2-3 p.m.; stjohndivine.org.
King delivered a sermon titled “The Death of Evil Upon the Seashore” in 1956 at this enormous Episcopalian house of worship in Morningside Heights, Manhattan. In his speech, he drew a connection between the escape of Jewish slaves from Egypt in the Book of Exodus and the fate of African-Americans fighting for equality. “There is a Red Sea in history that ultimately comes to carry the forces of goodness to victory,” he said. To commemorate King’s courageous optimism, the cathedral will hold a service in his memory. Later in the afternoon, in the Chapel of St. James, the composer and conductor Alice Parker will lead an hour of communal singing to honor the civil rights leader. Both events are free and open to the public.
Jan. 20; nycgovparks.org.
If you’re looking to celebrate King by emulating his commitment to service, volunteering is a way to go. The Department of Parks and Recreation is looking for ecologically minded helpers to pitch in removing invasive plant species at Forest Park in Queens (9 a.m.-12 p.m.); Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan (9 a.m.-12 p.m.); and Conference House Park on Staten Island (9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.). Volunteers will learn how to identify plants that disturb local ecosystems before getting down to work.
Harriet Tubman Memorial
Jan. 20, 10 a.m.; manhattancountryschool.org.
Young people, really young people, are increasingly the leading voices in political causes like the fight for gun control and against climate change. Eighth-graders at Manhattan Country School will gather at the Harriet Tubman Memorial in Harlem to demand “equity now,” the theme of this year’s march commemorating King. Students will give speeches and wield handmade signs to make sure they’re heard over the city’s formidable din.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music
Jan. 20, 10:30 a.m.; bam.org.
For Nikole Hannah-Jones, King’s life and work of is not a thing of the past. The New York Times journalist, and keynote speaker of this year’s daylong celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has made her career showing that the fight for civil rights is ongoing and the achievements of King and others must be protected and renewed. Onstage, Ms. Hannah-Jones will be joined by the musical guests Son Little and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir. “Picture the Dream,” an exhibition of artwork by local children inspired by King, on view through Feb. 9, will also emphasize the continuing relevance of his legacy.
Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church
Jan. 20, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 6753 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn.
Bay Ridge for Social Justice has decided to postpone its annual “March for Visibility Against Hate” until the weather is more conducive to gathering outdoors. In its place, the activist organization and several co-sponsors are holding a day of educational events at the Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, which will focus on community safety and conflict resolution. According to the event’s Facebook page, a potluck lunch will be held to connect community members, and child care will be provided.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Jan. 20, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; bigonion.com.
A walking tour from the group Big Onion, which begins in front of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, will guide visitors through Harlem, a neighborhood that is central to African-American history. The two hour jaunt focuses on the connection between Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, a period of cultural and economic flourishing, and the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s. The itinerary isn’t fully set, but stops could include the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where King spoke at a meeting of black and white clergy in 1957.
The Museum of the City of New York
Jan. 20, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.; mcny.org.
This museum’s ongoing exhibition, “Activist New York,” provides a good reminder that the fight for social justice has a long and complex history in the city. Young visitors can absorb this lesson through a scavenger hunt that teaches them about King’s role in the civil rights movement and its connections to other similar struggles. Story time and an art activity related to these subjects will kick off the day.
The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Jan. 20, 3-5:30 p.m.; bsec.org.
An event for children and parents here will honor King by highlighting art and culture from Africa. Moses Ogunleye will give a drawing lesson focused on styles and imagery from the continent, and Simba Yangala and dancers from her company JungleDom will introduce African dance forms before performing alongside audience members. Music about King’s life will be performed by the vocalist DuPree and the musician Barry Kornhauser.