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What's On: A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Round-Up

Banks will be shuttered, the post office will be closed, as the nation pauses to mark the 25th Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 17. So roll up your sleeves and join in on a chance to give back through a range of service opportunities. Then, treat yourself to the latest art opening. Bask in a free, and massive, classical music concert. Or enjoy the best of what a sunny, chilly New York has to offer by taking an organized walk around town. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite M.L.K. Day offerings this year in New York.

Get Involved: January 17 is the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Serve-a-Thon. Food pantries and soup kitchens across the city open their doors to hundreds of volunteers to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy and bring New Yorkers together in the fight against hunger. The Bowery Mission serves up more than 900 meals per day to poor and homeless men, women, and children and more recently, the unemployed who are doing everything possible to make ends meet. Volunteers will help prepare, serve and clean up from lunch or dinner alongside staff and resident students at 227 Bowery. Trinity Lower Eastside Lutheran Paris Shelter and Food for the Homeless serves up hot meals in its communal kitchen, and welcomes volunteers to contribute to its MLK servings. Low income families and individuals can pick up bags of groceries, including food for three meals a day for three days. Join in the work of this extraordinary kitchen in support of the community and those in need. Contact the Shelter for more information about helping out over the course of the MLK weekend. Housing Works Used Book Shop boasts more than 45,000 new, used, and rare books, with 100% of sales profits going to Housing Works, a non-profit organization that provides support to homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. Volunteers will assist with processing online orders, packaging up books for shipment and sorting incoming donations. Generation On, the youth service arm of The Points of Light Institute, hosts a Day On for the Day Off. Families and groups will gather at PS57 in Manhattan to work on projects benefiting local and global organizations. For more information about the MLK National Day of Service initiative, including a variety of volunteer options, testimonies, and further activities, see

Music, Dance and Film for MLK This winter, more than 150 composers, songwriters and performers re-defining contemporary music come together to explore the nexus between classical and popular music through the Ecstatic Music Festival. The Festival kicks off with a free seven-hour marathon in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, featuring headliners Buke and Gass with Victoire, and the U.S. premiere of John Matthias, Adrian Corker and Andrew Prior's new work for violin, voice, electric guitar, piano and NeuroSampler, entitled what happens. BAM honors Martin Luther King, Jr. with a free program featuring novelist and social commentator Walter Mosley. In his acclaimed fiction, Mosley has explored the black experience in America over the past seven decades, beginning with the migration of African-Americans from the Deep South to his native Los Angeles in the post-World War II era and through post-Obama election-era New York City. With musical performances by the Persuasions and The Reverend Timothy Wright Memorial Choir of the Grace Tabernacle Christian Center. Following the event in the Opera House, BAM Rose Cinemas will present a free screening of Neshoba: The Price of Freedom, an award winning documentary about a Mississippi town that remains divided 40 years after the murders of three civil rights workers. Join the Jewish Community Center (JCC) for its annual presentation Artists Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., centering on King's call for justice, peace and civil rights. The evening will be hosted by Ruth Messinger, with a keynote address by Rev. Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook. Look out for choreographer Bridget Moore’s piece: Remembrance of Things Past, performed by Juel Lane. The work sets the text of King’s Drum Major speech to dance and video. The JCC performance is free.

Artistic Adventures in honor of Dr. King Opening on MLK Day through January 20, MoMA’s Performance Exhibition Series presents Performance 12: On Line/Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci, a program of live performance and dance in conjunction with the group exhibition On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. The Studio Museum in Harlem hosts Cool Culture, a New York non-profit dedicated to making New York’s art world accessible to lower-income families, in the presentation of “Dream Big” honoring MLK Day. This special edition of Target Free Sundays at the Studio Museum will feature scavenger hunts, games, and arts activities, as well as a chance to check out art featured in the Studio's celebrated collection of art by African American artists.

Bring the Kids Throughout the long weekend, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and work with art. Bring your kids to create neighborhood collages, medals of commitment to community improvement, and to share stories of service. On Monday, the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir will take the stage at 3 P.M. and 4 P.M. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum debuts their new exhibit, "Night Journeys," this weekend. On Sunday, January 16, the Free Synagogue of Flushing will host an interfaith celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program will include musical presentations from several traditions, and featured speakers Imam Yusuf Ramadan and Rabbi Michael Weisser will discuss both King's legacy, and the work yet to be done, in this celebration to enhance the equality of all people.

Walk this Way Join Big Onion for a walking tour of Harlem to learn about African-American history and see the landmark homes, churches and theaters that shaped it here in New York. Step up to an annual tradition as the eighth-grade students from Manhattan Country School lead We Have Another Dream: Civil Rights in the 21st Century, a walk through relevant sites in Manhattan. This year, the march focuses on contemporary civil rights struggles, including education, sustainability, LGBTQ discrimination, post-9/11 civil rights, hate crimes, and animal rights. When Seneca Village—a small island located within what is now Central Park—was founded in 1825, it was the first enclave for exclusively African-American and other minority settlers in the country. The Seneca Walking Tour, hosted by the Central Park Conservency, will explain the history of the settlement, as well as connect it to MLK’s message of peace and equality.

Museums throw open their doors The newly remodeled Museum of the Moving Image is opens this Saturday. On Monday, the museum will offer free admission for its Family Day, including a special screening of Coraline ($3 for 3D glasses) and a special one-night-only screening of the documentary King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis. Other museums that are normally closed on Mondays will be open for the holiday. The New York Hall of Science will be open with regular programming. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will hold Holiday Monday hours, during which the main building will be open and family art activities will be held throughout the day. The Staten Island Children’s Museum will be open and offering free admission.

Finally, one of our own As Americans face the harshest economy in a generation, WNYC explores the contemporary relevance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's fight for economic justice for all. This January 16 at the Brooklyn Museum, join WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, WQXR's Terrance McKnight, and Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Perry to celebrate MLK and his passionate advocacy for equal access to the American dream.