Martin Luther King, Jr., the chief spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement, is memorialized annually on the third Monday of January. This floating holiday has evolved into more than just a day off from school. Now deemed a National Day of Service, MLK Day encourages volunteers across the country to donate their time in order to make a difference. This day reminds us of hope, compassion, and the ongoing potential for social change. Many New Jersey towns are hosting local activities, and we've put together a list that includes both celebrations and service activities.
Unless otherwise noted, all events take place on Monday, January 21, 2019. Check out your local library calendars for additional events. And for more information on the life and work of Dr. King, please visit The King Center.
New Jersey Weekend Celebration at NJPAC – Newark
On Saturday, January 19, NJPAC will host its annual MLK Celebration. This year's special event features Grammy-winner CeCe Winans with Anthony Brown and therAPy.
I Have a Dreamcatcher Craft – Hillsborough
Swing by the Hillsborough Branch of Somerset County Library on January 19 for a dreamcatcher creation in honor of Dr. King.
Take part in hands-on art projects and more at Newark Museum's Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration. Photo courtesy of the museum
The Newark Museum Family Day – Newark
Visit the Newark Museum from noon – 4pm to celebrate freedom and community while learning about the life and legacy of Dr. King. The museum will host activities for all ages, including film screenings, performances, and hands-on art and interactive tours.
Work on projects and take part in volunteer opportunities as part of Fanwood and Scotch Plains MLK Day activities. Photo by the author
Fanwood and Scotch Plains Martin Luther King Day of Service – Various locations
The neighboring towns of Fanwood and Scotch Plains will host their Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service. More than 40 nonprofit organizations will take part, offering new and exciting volunteer opportunities to the entire family.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Valentine Card Making – Summit
The Reeves-Reed Arboretum invites young visitors to stop by to and make cards from recycled materials that will be given to local hospital patients for Valentine's Day.
Celebrate the Life & Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Princeton
The Art Council of Princeton welcomes guests of all ages to honor Dr. King's mission through historical activities, a canned-food drive, story circle, live music, and breakfast.
Gloucester Township Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service – Blackwood
Gloucester Township offers ample opportunity to give back on MLK Day, with projects like creating fleece blankets for a women's shelter, assisting with shelter animals, crafting cards for troops, designing booklets for a children's hospital, and much more.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Movie & Crafts – Forked River
Children of all ages can learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a movie and crafts that focus on the International Day of Peace.
2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Observance & Fair – Maplewood and South Orange
Sponsored by the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, this event includes music, interfaith readings, and a keynote address by New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver; a volunteer fair showcasing local service organizations; and luminary-lighting ceremonies in both South Orange and Maplewood.
Jersey Cares 2019 Day of Service – Various locations
Jersey Cares, which carries a mission to “be the change," will lead projects throughout the Garden State. From sorting donated clothing items to painting murals, individuals and families with children of all ages can find activities that will honor the spirit of MLK Jr.
If you're looking for more family volunteer opportunities, check out our Holiday Volunteering post.
Originally published 2012; updated 2019.