This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream. Coretta Scott King 

Who was Dr. King?

This event will explore inspiration and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who inspired him, who did he inspire, and what was he like as a person? Through hands-on activities, tours, music, and food visitors can discover answers to these questions.  

Highlights of the day include music by Rex Carnegie and the House Band performing music inspired by Dr. King and written by musical legends featured in the Museum’s collection; a service project that will benefit unhoused and foster children; and “Eat Like a King,” a culinary station in the Sweet Home Café featuring Dr. King’s favorite foods for purchase, including “Quilly” which was a beloved dessert made by Dr. King’s mother, Alberta Williams King. 

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his 'I Have A Dream' speech.

5 Things to Know: Surprising Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr’s famous, “I Have a Dream” speech was partially improvised and that the iconic phrase was left out of the original draft?
Read More about 5 Things to Know: Surprising Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

The 15 Year Battle for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Despite the national fervor inspired by his death it took 15 years of persistence by civil rights activists a holiday created in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be approved by the federal government and an additional 17 years for it to be recognized in all 50 states.
Read More about The 15 Year Battle for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Who inspired Dr. King?

Who did Dr. King inspire?

What Dr. King liked to eat

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. From Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech 1964

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came back home to Atlanta from Sweden after being awarded the Nobel Prize he wanted a good southern meal of ribs, collard greens, and baked sweet potatoes. According to his mother, Alberta Williams King, he also wanted his favorite dessert “Quilly.” This was the name the children had given this dessert of hers. Mrs. King, Sr. speculated that they named it that because it was garnished with spikes of thin sugar wafers.”

                                        View the "Quilly" Recipe


Dr. King & Music

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Address for the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival
Christian McBride seated at piano

The People’s Holiday

NMAAHC’s annual community program entitled The People’s Holiday features six-time Grammy award-winning bassist, composer, and educator Christian McBride in a digital performance inspired by his social justice-focused album entitled, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons.
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Video with audio description track

Honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with living history interpreter John W. McCaskill as he chronicles the last five years of King’s life and shares other stories of the individuals who fought to end racial segregation and discrimination in the United States.

Additional Information: John W. McCaskill brings dynamic public speaking presentations in Washington, DC and across the country. To authenticate his living history presentations, he adorns period attire for colonial, WWII/Army Air Corps Tuskegee Airmen, and Civil War U.S. Colored Troops, World War I, Reconstruction, Buffalo Soldier, and the 1960’s Civil Rights period.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
From Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech
Visualize nearly 60 years of community activism and protest movements for racial and social justice in the United States through photography from the Museum's permanent collection. Featuring a range of iconic images from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom through the Women's March in 2017, and the Black Lives Matter movement, "Why We March" illustrates how marching is a sign of solidarity, reflecting a community whose voices and bodies come together to demand recognition and the promises of democracy.

What does Dr. King mean to you?

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