How to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the Triangle

Monument at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh via City of Raleigh

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to the fight against racism. He spearheaded the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and the March on Washington in 1963 (as well as many other historic accomplishments). Even after receiving countless death threats and other abuse, Martin Luther King Jr.’s determination for justice + equality never wavered

Did you know Martin Luther King, Jr. was no stranger to the Triangle? That’s right. Between 1956 and 1964, the Civil Rights leader visited several times and gave six different speeches in Durham alone.

Next Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 marks the 26th year of service honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And while celebrations and service opportunities may be different this year due to COVID-19, the importance of MLK Day nevertheless stands — to reflect, learn, and give back to our community.

 So, in honor of next week’s holiday, we’ve rounded up a few local ways you can get involved on MLK day.



MLK Day of Service 2021 | Mon., Jan. 18 | 9–3 p.m. | Various locations | Join United Way of the Greater Triangle for a socially distanced drive to support four local nonprofits.

Dignity Week | Jan. 15–23 | Various times + locations | ActivateGood has put together a collection of volunteer opportunities taking place throughout the Triangle.


41st Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony | Fri., Jan. 15 | 9 a.m. | Virtual | Free | A small gathering of local leaders + clergy will lay a wreath beside the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to honor his life and symbolize solidarity towards achieving a more beloved community.

Dreamfest | Jan. 16–18 | Virtual | Free | The Town of Cary will be streaming various performances and films. They will also stream a virtual prayer breakfast on January 17.

41st MLK, Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast | Mon., Jan. 18 | 7–9 a.m. | Virtual | Free | WRAL will stream the Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Committee’s 41st Annual MLK Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast featuring Bishop Michael Curry.

Chapel Hill – Carrboro NAACP Virtual Celebration | Mon., Jan. 18 | 11 a.m. | Virtual | Free | This year’s theme is “Lift Every Voice for Justice!” featuring keynote speaker Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.

Stop Hunger One Family at a Time (Drive Thru) Food Distribution | Mon., Jan. 18 | 9 a.m. | 1436 Rock Quarry Rd. | Area families in need of food assistance are encouraged to come to the Southeast Raleigh YMCA for a box of donated food items. There is a limit of one box per family + donations are provided on a first come, first-served basis.

Community Heroes Day | Weds., Jan. 20 | 10–1 p.m. | Marbles Kids Museum | $9+ | Kids will get the chance to meet paramedics, firefighters, police officers + lineworkers, as well as enjoy a special story time celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.

Celebrating The Legacy Through the Arts | Sat., Jan. 23 | 11–4 p.m. | Virtual | Free | Participants will enjoy a series of activities highlighting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  including visual entertainment, group discussion, and more.


Dream Big Book Drive | Weds., Jan. 20 | 1–4 p.m. | Rhythms Live Music Hall, 2020 Chapel Hill Rd. | Drop off new and gently used children’s books + receive a bag of books in return. 

Diaper Drive | Jan. 1–18 | 1–4 p.m. | Northwest Cary YMCA, 6903 Carpenter Fire Station Rd. | The Northwest Cary YMCA is hosting a Diaper Drive to commemorate MLK Day of Service + support the Diaper Bank of NC.

MLK50 | Your gift to MLK50 will support the National Civil Rights Museum’s series of events and programs to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy.


○ The Museum of Durham History’s exhibit, “A Creative Protest: MLK Comes to Durham” features stories from local residents + reflections on their relationships and interactions with MLK. The exhibit is currently virtual and can be viewed here.

○ We’ve put together a list of book recommendations from local bookstores that aim provide dialogue, stories + conversations about race, privilege, history, and social justice.

Did we miss something big? Be sure to email us + let us know.