Civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a Baptist congregation in Alabama, established an organization committed to challenging racism with nonviolent civil disobedience in Georgia and delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech" in Washington D.C., but he collected a Medallion of Honor right here in New York City.
On Monday, Jan. 16, a national holiday dedicated to King's legacy, New Yorkers can take pride in a social justice warrior Mayor Robert Wagner claimed as one of our own only four years before he was assassinated in 1968.
Wagner invited the civil rights activist to come to the Big Apple on a mission to heal racial tensions that had exploded in the summer of 1964, after the fatal shooting of a black student by an off-duty white police officer in Harlem sparked six nights of violent riots. On Dec. 17, he presented King the medallion in the City Council chamber of City Hall and hosted a reception in the Empire Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
"This noon ... I said to you that New York was your city," he recalled in his remarks. "We claim you, henceforth, as an honorary New Yorker."
"We thank you on behalf of the millions of this great city for your courageous struggle to hold aloft the torch of brotherly love in the midst of deepening shadows of hate."
For New Yorkers who want to remember or thank King in their own way this weekend, DNAinfo New York has a few ideas — organized by borough — below:
Where: Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St., Central Harlem
When: Sunday, Jan. 15, 3 p.m.
WNYC hosts Brian Lehrer and Jami Floyd will moderate an open discussion on the future of social justice movements. Speaking guests include New York Daily News senior justice writer Shaun King and L. Joy Williams, president of NAACP's Brooklyn chapter. The free event will also feature performances by hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and singer-songwriter Marcelle Davies-Lashley. Online reservations may be closed due to overwhelming demand, but you can still sign up for a standby line.
Where: African Burial Grounds Museum, 290 Broadway, TriBeCa
When: Monday, Jan. 16, 10:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The museum is celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with two free film screenings, PBS’ "Slavery by Another Name," based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas A. Blackmon, at 10:30 a.m., followed by Ely Landau’s "King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis," from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Begins at Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, Morningside Heights
When: Monday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Manhattan Country School eighth-graders will honor the legacy of the civil rights leader by taking to the streets and delivering speeches to raise awareness about such issues as mass incarceration, racial profiling, sexual assault, anti-Muslim bias, climate change and the gender pay gap. The march, an annual event organized by students but open to the general public, will kick off at Riverside Church and end at Manhattan Country School. This year's theme is “We Will Not Be Silenced: A Call to Action.”
Where: Picnic House, Prospect Park
When: Friday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m.
Repair the World NYC is hosting a shabbat supper open to 20- and 30-somethings of all backgrounds and faiths to celebrate King's legacy "through a conversation about race, faith, equity, and justice," according to the Jewish community service group's website. At the evening's center is an interview with Yavilah McCoy, the founding director of Ayecha, an organization advocating for Jews of color in the United States. Shabbat dinner, which will be a kosher and vegetarian meal, costs $18 per person.
Where: Concord Baptist Church of Christ, 833 Marcy Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant
When: Friday, Jan. 13 to Monday, Jan. 16
Join local organization 500 Men Making a Difference for their 7th Annual MLK Renovation Project. Starting Friday at 11 p.m., volunteers will paint, clean and renovate Bed-Stuy’s Concord Baptist Church of Christ House. End the weekend with a men’s breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday. Contact Wayne Devonish at 917-297-2365 for more details.
Where: Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene
When: Monday, Jan. 16, 10:30 a.m.
Activists, civic leaders, musicians, poets, and other performers celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy at the largest public celebration in honor of the civil rights leader. This year’s keynote speaker will be Opal Tometi, a racial justice and immigrant rights activist who also founded the Black Lives Matter movement. Gospel legends the Institutional Radio Choir and Sacred Steel gospel group the Campbell Brothers will perform. This event is free and open to the public. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
Where: Congregation Beth Elohim, 274 Garfield Place, Park Slope
When: Monday, Jan. 16, 7 p.m.
City Councilman Brad Lander and Rabbi Rachel Timoner launched #GetOrganizedBK in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory to organize resistance to Trump’s policies. At this event, participants will reflect on King’s legacy, then split into working groups to tackle issues such as fighting cabinet appointments, climate change and using art to counter Trump.
Where: Colden Auditorium, Queens College, Reeves Ave., Flushing
When: Sunday, Jan. 15, 4 p.m.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem Company, a ballet company with a broad repertoire, will return to the Colden Auditorium stage for Queens College's third annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day commemoration. This year's event honors the Reverend Dr. Floyd H. Flake, senior pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, for perpetuating King's spirit and ideals. Tickets are $35.
Where: Wave Hill, West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Riverdale
When: Saturday, Jan. 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Kids and parents can honor King's memory on the grounds of this public garden and cultural center with an arts and crafts project. Wave Hill will provide fabric, yarn and markers that children can use to design their own freedom quilts with "messages and quotes that speak out for kindness to all." The activity is free, as is admission to the grounds before noon.
Where: Bright Temple Church, 812 Faile St., Hunts Point
When: Friday, Jan. 13 through Monday, Jan. 16
For its fourth annual MLK weekend of service, the Food Bank of New York City is looking for volunteers to help create a functional soup kitchen at the church, as well as expand its existing pantry. Volunteers who fill out the online survey will be assigned to such projects as painting, patchwork, gardening or arts and crafts. You must be 18 or older to participate.