9 ways to commemorate MLK Day in Connecticut

Photo of Nicole Funaro

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed each year on the third Monday in January to remember the life of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the legislation to create the holiday was introduced four days after Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968.

Fifteen years later, then-President Ronald Reagan signed a bill on Nov. 2, 1983 to designate the day as a federal holiday, the Museum notes, and an additional 17 years before all 50 states recognized the holiday. 

Today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has several purposes in addition to honoring the civil rights leader’s legacy, the Constitution Center notes: it highlights civil rights and using nonviolence to keep King’s memory in mind on Jan. 17.

Here are just a few of the in-person and virtual events happening around the state held in honor of the civil rights leader. 

26th Annual MLK Celebration
Yale Peabody Musuem, New Haven

The Brontosaurus Heads-Off Community Day at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday Dec. 7, 2019. The event is an all-day party to kick of Dinosaur Days each Saturday in December, leading to the closing of the Great Hall of Dinosaurs and the Mammal Hall on Dec. 31 and the three-year closing of the museum on June 30.

The Brontosaurus Heads-Off Community Day at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Conn., on Saturday Dec. 7, 2019. The event is an all-day party to kick of Dinosaur Days each Saturday in December, leading to the closing of the Great Hall of Dinosaurs and the Mammal Hall on Dec. 31 and the three-year closing of the museum on June 30.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

Jan. 13 to Jan. 17

The virtual event series comes via a partnership between the Yale Peabody Museum and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and aims to show how Dr. King’s example “continues to impact artists, advocates, and thought leaders today,” according to a press release. The series runs from Jan. 13 through Jan. 17 and explores a range of topics, including environmental justice, “art as wellness” and community involvement. There will also be a virtual poetry jam. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Acts of Community Service Family Day
Bruce Museum, Greenwich

Exterior of the Bruce Museum.

Exterior of the Bruce Museum.

Ned Gerard / Ned Gerard

Jan. 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (In person)

The Bruce Museum’s family day event offers several opportunities to learn how to get involved in local community organizations. From the Beardsley Zoo and FidelCo Guide Dogs to Greenwich’s Neighbor to Neighbor, families can learn how they can work with these organizations and more to carry on Dr. King’s service work. Visitors can also get free admission when they donate unopened toiletries for the Museum’s donation drive for Neighbor to Neighbor.

Community Day — MLK Day Celebration
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain

Martin Luther King, Jr., center, and others stand at the head of the group on Turn Back Tuesday in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

Martin Luther King, Jr., center, and others stand at the head of the group on Turn Back Tuesday in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

Jan. 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (In person)

The New Britain Museum of American Art will be offering free admission on Jan. 17 for families to participate in Martin Luther King, Jr.-inspired art activities. Registration is required prior to attending. 

Town of Ridgefield MLK Day Celebration
The Ridgefield Playhouse

Allison Stockel, executive director of The Ridgefield Playhouse, looks forward to when the theater can reopen and fill these seats. For now, it is among the many arts organizations that are livestreaming events during this time of social distancing. Soon a new website, RidgefieldStreams.org, will offer details on what Ridgefield-based organizations are doing, so it's easier for all to find out what's going on.

Allison Stockel, executive director of The Ridgefield Playhouse, looks forward to when the theater can reopen and fill these seats. For now, it is among the many arts organizations that are livestreaming events during this time of social distancing. Soon a new website, RidgefieldStreams.org, will offer details on what Ridgefield-based organizations are doing, so it's easier for all to find out what's going on.

The Ridgefield Playhouse / Contributed photo

Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. (Hybrid)

The town of Ridgefield will commemorate its 26th MLK Day celebration by presenting the town’s Spirit of Dr. King Award for service to executive director of The Ridgefield Playhouse, Allison Stockel. The free celebratory event will feature a mixture of live and virtual performances from The Ridgefield Chorale and other groups. Guests can either attend the in-person celebration or stream it live on the Ridgefield Playhouse Youtube channel

Arts Alliance of Stratford: Through Our Eyes Art Show and Sale
Sterling House, Stratford

Sterling House Community Center, in Stratford, Conn. Aug. 5, 2021.

Sterling House Community Center, in Stratford, Conn. Aug. 5, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Jan. 17 to Feb. 18 (In person)

The Arts Alliance of Stratford will honor the memory of Dr. King by hosting its “Through Our Eyes” Art Show and Sale, which highlights local Black artists. The show will open on Jan. 17 in the gallery space of the Sterling House with a reception and run through Feb. 18. 

JCares MLK Day of Service
Stamford JCC

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sits with his hands folded for a portrait circa 1967.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sits with his hands folded for a portrait circa 1967.

Martin Mills/Getty Images / Getty Images

Jan. 17 (In person)

The Stamford JCC will hold a day of service in remembrance of Dr. King. Starting at 10 a.m. on Jan. 17, attendees can participate in a rally at Bethel AME Church, and then march to the Boys & Girls Club/Yerwood Center for lunch. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the JCC will host a park cleanup service project at Scalzi Park. Guests can also participate in a service project to help those experience homelessness in Stamford, which includes making, delivering and serving meals. The day concludes with an in-person screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” 

On Jan. 18, the Center is hosting a virtual author conversation with Andrew Feiler, the author of the book, “A Better Life for their Children: Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington and the 4,978 Schools That Changed America.”

MLK Day Art Camp
MoCa Westport

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers a speech to a crowd of approximately 7,000 people on May 17, 1967 at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers a speech to a crowd of approximately 7,000 people on May 17, 1967 at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Michael Ochs Archives

Jan. 17, 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (In person)

Kids in pre-school through third grade can participate in a 9:30 a.m. session or 12:30 p.m. session of a day art camp with a Martin Luther King, Jr. theme, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Westport (MoCa). Attendees must pre-register for $90 to participate in the camp. 

Justice for All: MLK Day Summit
Stamford Boys and Girls Club

The Stamford Boys & Girls Club at Stillwater Avenue.
The Stamford Boys & Girls Club at Stillwater Avenue.
Bob Luckey / Hearst Connecticut Media

Jan. 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (In person)

Middle school girls can participate for free at the Stamford Boys and Girls Club in a Dr. King presentation by Connecticut nonprofit LiveGirl, Inc. on how to get involved in their community. Guests will hear from speaker Shaenna Taylor, an educator and co-founder of Bridgeport Strong, as well as create a “dream wall” with their visions for the future. 

MLK Day Camp
Wakeman Town Farm, Westport

Wakeman Town Farm glowed in the sunset light on April 5.
Wakeman Town Farm glowed in the sunset light on April 5.
Sophie Vaughan / Hearst Connecticut Media

Jan. 17, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (In person)

Westport’s Wakeman Town Farm is hosting an MLK Day camp for 6-11 year olds. Kids will work with farm educators, as well as arts and culinary instructors as they learn how to work with animals, make snacks using farm-fresh ingredients, make crafts and play games. Guests must pre-register for $125 to participate in the MLK Day camp. 

In addition to participating in a day of service, take a look back at some historic photos of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life.