Seattle's Child

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Martin Luther King Day Seattle

An event photo from 2019. (Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Organizing Coalition.)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Family-friendly events around Seattle

Also, resources for at-home learning about Dr. King's message of community service and nonviolent protest.

Martin Luther King Day in Seattle, 2022: Monday, Jan. 17, is the national holiday commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

Whether you decide to attend a march or honor Dr. King quietly in your own way, take the opportunity to explore and share his message of community, service and equality.

A week of workshops

The Seattle Area Martin Luther King Organizing Coalition will hold a week of virtual events and workshops from Tuesday through Saturday, Jan. 11-15. Topics include defending democracy in schools, transportation equity, labor solidarity, immigrant justice, the rise of the far right and much more. Full schedule and registration details here.

Virtual event for youths

“Reclaiming the Narrative” is the theme for a virtual event from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 16). It will include youth performances and a panel discussion on how this generation experiences the education system.

It will be available on multiple platforms:

Rainier Avenue Radio

Martin Luther King Day Seattle: March and rally

The marquee event in Seattle is the annual march and rally sponsored by the Seattle Area Martin Luther King Organizing Coalition.

The rally takes place at 11 a.m. Monday in the Garfield High School front parking lot. The march is set to depart at 12:30. However, the exact route is not being publicized.

Details about the event, including COVID-19 precautions, here.

In addition, people are asked to wear masks, be mindful of distancing, bring and use hand sanitizer and bring their own food, water and personal items. Important: Anyone feeling ill or experiencing respiratory or other COVID symptoms is asked to not attend the march.

Beforehand, the Northwest African American Museum (in conjunction with Seattle Sounders FC and Public Health-Seattle King County), will be on hand with some events:

Beginning at 9 a.m., there will be a Knowledge is Power Books and Balls Giveaway, a Hygiene for Humanity Supply Drive (a list of needed supplies is online) and a COVID-19 vaccine/booster clinic. Also: The first 100 people to get a vaccination or booster shot will receive two tickets to a Sounders game.

Northwest African American Museum virtual event

The Northwest African American Museum will host a virtual King Day Celebration with the theme “The Poetics of Infinite Hope.” It will be broadcast on NAAM’s YouTube channel from 2-4:30 p.m. (and again from 6-8:30 p.m.) Monday, Jan. 17.

Nikki Giovanni, the poet, author, activist and commentator, will give the keynote address. Additionally, there will be a children’s story hour and performances of songs from the civil-rights movement. Guests will include the African American Cultural Ensemble, LeRoy Bell Band and Seattle Opera.

Readers during Children’s Book Story Hour (3:30-4:30 and 6 to 7 p.m.) will include Everett Fitzhugh, Seattle Kraken; State Rep. Jamila Taylor; Isiah Anderson, Seattle’s “Teen Summer Musical”; Dr. Damien Pattenaude, Renton Schools superintendent; Rev. Anttimo D. Bennett, Sr., community clergy leader.

“The Poetics of Infinite Hope” is inspired by these words from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Martin Luther King Day Seattle: Do something good

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of community service and volunteering, and the holiday often features some large work parties and volunteer opportunities.

United Way of King County has a searchable list of volunteer opportunities. (Pro tip: filter for “family-friendly.”)

You also can honor Dr. King by doing good as a family: Pick up litter in your neighborhood, help a neighbor, donate to a food bank or other nonprofit.


Seattle MLK Day 2022: More online events

Seattle Colleges will hold its 49th annual Community Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a video production available online beginning at 10 a.m. Monday (but you can watch it at any time). With historic Mount Zion Baptist Church as the setting, it will include music by DaNell Daymon and Greater Works; an emphasis on improving higher education access and outcomes for Black and Brown youth; and announcement of the 2022 McKinney Scholar, honoring the late Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney, a giant among civil-rights leaders in Seattle.

The Washington State History Museum will offer various online activities for all ages from 10 a.m-4 p.m. Monday. Details here.


On-your-own observations:

The King Center is a great resource for learning about Dr. King’s life and teachings. Stanford University also has an institute with an extensive online collection, including an annotated version of the “I Have a Dream” speech. There are a lot of ideas on Pinterest, too.

Read: Even the youngest kids can begin to learn about Dr. King and his message, and there are lots of books to help. Here is just one list, put together by PBS. Here’s another extensive list: Books and resources to help your family explore racial identity and social justice.

King County Library System has this “community created” list of books on Dr. King.


Also: Washington State Parks have free admission on Monday, Jan. 17.



About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is the website editor for Seattle's Child. She is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 14-year-old girl.