Yes, Monday is a federal holiday, but there are better ways to commemorate the remarkable and world-changing life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned ninety this year, than bingeing Netflix. 

As DeWarren K. Langley, secretary of the Durham Community Martin Luther King Jr. Steering Committee, puts it, “The Dr. King holiday is a day on, not a day off. King’s legacy resonates in terms of the need to deal with, to mitigate, to dismantle oppressive systems of inequality and racism in our community.”

Here are some MLK Day events in the Triangle area you can participate in:


2019 MLK Commemoration at Duke University

Sunday, January 20, 3:00 p.m.

Duke University Chapel, 401 Chapel Drive, Durham

Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist and #MeToo founder, will deliver a keynote address called “Why Words Matter: From Dissent to Dialogue.”

Interfaith MLK Day of Service for Teens

Sunday, January 20, 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

Levin JCC, 1937 West Cornwallis Road

Teens can with service projects for Urban Ministries and enjoy pizza and a performance by the Bull City Slam Team after.

39th Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast

Monday, January 21, 7:00 a.m.

Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center, 4700 Emperor Boulevard

A breakfast with a keynote address from WRAL anchor David Crabtree.

Unity March & Rally

Monday, January 21, 10:30 a.m.

411 West Chapel Hill Street

A march to the First Presbyterian Church. Bring new children’s books to donate to the Book Harvest’s Dream Big Book Drive & Community Celebration.

Annual MLK Birthday Party at Northgate Mall

Monday, January 21, 10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Northgate Mall, 1058 West Club Boulevard

A children-friendly event with dance, art, and poetry.

Maynard Screening

Monday, January 21, 1:00 p.m.

Durham Academy, 3601 Ridge Road 

Screening of a documentary on Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta, followed by a discussion with executive producer Maynard Jackson III, Wendy Jackson, and Kristen V. Bell, the daughter of former Durham mayor Bill Bell.

Day of Service—Book Harvest’s Dream Big Book Drive & Community Celebration

Monday, January 21, 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Durham Central Park, 501 Foster Street

Organize donated children’s books for Book Harvest NC.

Day of Service—Jubilee Home Workday

Monday, January 21, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Jubilee Home, 404 East Umstead Street

Volunteer for Jubilee House.

Annual Religious Service

Monday, January 21, 6:00 p.m.

Mount Level Missionary Baptist Church, 316 Hebron Road

Keynote address from the Reverend Dr. William C. Turner Jr. of Mount Level Missionary Baptist Church and the 2019 Keeper of the Dream Awards.

19th Annual DCRI MLK Day Celebration

Tuesday, January 22, 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.

Duke Clinical Research Institute, 200 Morris Street

Musician and Emmy-award winning producer Pierce Freelon will lecture on “Kings and Queens of the Movement,” with a performance from DeVone Young.

Talk by Writer and Activist Shaun King

Wednesday, January 23, 7 p.m.–9 p.m.

Bryan Center, Reynolds Industries Theater, 125 Science Drive

A talk with writer and activist Shaun King. All tickets have been claimed, but you can livestream the talk here.


7th Annual MLK Day Breakfast

Monday, January 21, 6:00 a.m.–10 a.m.

Widow’s Son Lodge #4, 427 S. Blount Street

Have breakfast with NC Cluster Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority

39th Annual MLK Memorial March

Monday, January 21, 10 a.m. to participate, 11 a.m. to watch

1 East Edenton Street

March to the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts Center.

The 39th Annual Martin Luther King Noon Observation

Monday, January 21, noon

Duke Energy Center for The Performing Arts, 2 East South Street

A celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy.

39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Evening Musical Celebration

Monday, January 21, 5:30 p.m.

Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Meymandi Hall, 2 East South Street

Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Thursday, January 24, 11 a.m.

C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium, 118 East South Street

Shaw University honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the historic founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee on the campus in 1960.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough

The Unafraid Screening and Panel Discussion

Saturday, January 20, 3:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.

FedEx Global Education Center, 301 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill

Hosted by UNC Diversity Programs, The Unafraid follows the lives of three DACA students in Georgia; screening followed by a Q&A.

Rally, March, and Observance Service with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP

Monday, January 21

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP remembers Dr. King with a rally followed by a march, then an observance service.


9 a.m., Peace and Justice Plaza, 179 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

Followed by a march to First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill.

Observance Service

11 a.m., First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill, 106 North Roberson Street, Chapel Hill

Tuesday, January 22, 5:00 p.m.

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Stone Center, 150 South Road, Chapel Hill

Explore Dr. King’s legacy through music, dance and spoken word.


Talk by the Reverend Jimmie Hawkins

Saturday, January 19, 4:00 p.m.

Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 West Garner Road

A talk from Reverend Hawkins, director of the Office of Public Witness for the Presbyterian Church.


Cary celebrates Dreamfest through Sunday at the Cary Arts Center.

Remembering Leaders of the Dream

Saturday, January 19, 10:00 a.m.

Cary Arts Center

Award-winning author Willa Brigham shares stories about key leaders of the civil rights movement.

Wilmington on Fire Screening

Saturday, January 19, 2:00 p.m.

Cary Arts Center

A documentary on the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, a brutal attack on the African-American community.

Celebrating the Dream

Saturday, January 19, 8:00 p.m.

Cary Arts Center

Performances by the  Pleasant Grove Church Sanctuary Choir, harpist Winifred Garrett, and the N.C. Central Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

The Cary Theater presents Al: My Brother

Sunday, January 20, 2:00 p.m.

The Cary Theater

A documentary about the life of white civil rights activist and attorney Alan McSurely during his fifty-plus-year-long battle against racism.  


Monday, January 21, 10:00 a.m.–noon (shift A), 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. (shift B)

Good Hope Farm, 1580 Morrisville Carpenter Road

Help out at Cary’s new urban agriculture and historic site, Good Hope Farm. Please bring one nonperishable food item to be donated to a local food pantry.