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7 Martin Luther King Jr. Day events happening around Chicago

Explore photo exhibitions, join the MLK Day Challenge or attend a film screening

Dr. Martin Luther King makes a speech at the ‘Illinois Rally for Civil Rights’ at Soldier Field on June 21 1964 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Ted Williams/Iconic Images/Getty Images

On Monday, January 15, Chicago institutions and museums will be hosting events and activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy. From newly opened exhibits to tribute concerts and creative events across the city, adults and children have the chance to participate in a variety of programs.

Participate in the MLK Day Challenge hosted by My Block, My Hood, My City all weekend long. The event encourages people to step out of their comfort zones and visit communities outside their own. To help people do that, the event has a list of places to explore which includes Kusanya Cafe in Englewood, Douglas Park in North Lawndale, Plaza Tenochtitlan in Pilsen, or Dat Donut in Chatham.

Museums that offer free admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day include Adler Planetarium, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and Shedd Aquarium. Here’s a list of other days with free admission too.

At the Chicago History Museum a new exhibition, Remembering Dr. King: 1929-1968, will open Monday. The gallery of 25 iconic photos from King’s life and the Civil Rights Movement will focus on his time in Chicago. There will also be special performances from the Writers’ Theatre and a reenactment of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech throughout the day.

The Rebuild Foundation at the Stony Island Arts Bank will be closed for the holiday but on Tuesday it will pull selections from its archives that focus on Dr. King and the civil rights movement. The workshop, Ruminations: Reintroducing Dr. King’s Legacy, will have some art materials on hand and help with letter writing to Congress or other elected officials.

Get creative at the Museum of Science and Industry at 2018 Black Creativity program which kicks off on Monday. See artworks from more than 100 professional and amateur African-American artists or head to the Innovation Studio and design whatever invention that comes to mind.

The Hyde Park Art Center will offer a day of film screenings and discussions. Filmmaker Floyd Webb will curate a selection of short films that highlight black art and black power movements. The program will include readings, discussions that fit alongside the center’s current exhibition of work by Bill Walker, co-founder of the Wall of Respect.

The Art Institute of Chicago will celebrate the day through storytelling, discussions and art making. At King Day Festival: Say It Loud visitors will hear from young poets and offer teen-led discussion.

The Chicago Symphony Center will host a tribute concert, Ask Your Mama. The Grammy-award winning piece performed by Chicago Sinfonietta includes orchestra, opera, jazz vocals, spoken word, archival audio samples, and video. During intermission attendees can explore the art of social justice through interactive activities.