Guide to MLK Day Celebrations around the Rochester area

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday. Here’s your guide to community events honoring the civil rights leader.

MLK Day celebration at Eastman Theatre (8:30 a.m. to noon)

The community will celebrate Dr. King with a free event on Monday at Kodak Hall inside Eastman Theatre. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.

The keynote speaker will be former U.S. Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, the goddaughter of the late Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. King. The event will also include a performance by Rochester’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir and other local musicians.

This year’s theme of the event is “The Dream is Not Dead: Democracy is Alive!”, a nod to the year 2023 marking the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. In previous years, the annual event at Eastman has attracted more than 700 people.

The event will be emceed by the incoming chair of the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr.
Commission, Virgil Parker. Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Mayor Malik Evans will be among the guests.

The Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission organized the event. You can register for the free event here.

Roberts Wesleyan University Discovery Day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Roberts Wesleyan University is holding a day to honor Dr. King at the campus’ Lake Auditorium on Westside Drive. The event is free. Here’s the schedule:

  • 10:00 am: Check-in
  • 10:30 am: Welcome to B.T.’s Neighborhood
  • 11:00 am: Campus Tour
  • 12:00 pm: Lunch
  • 12:45 pm: Chapel Message
  • 1:15 pm: Majors & Services Expo
  • 1:45 pm: Trial Class: What Service Really Means | Financial Aid 101
  • 2:15 pm: Parent Panel | Student Panel
  • 3:00 pm: Closing

Rochester Institute of Technology Let Freedom Ring event (10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

RIT is inviting the community to celebrate Dr. King with the “Let Freedom Ring” event at Ingle Auditorium. The keynote speaker will be RIT School of Communication professor Katrina Overby. Here’s the schedule:

  • 10:30am – 11:30am Keynote Address | Ingle Auditorium
  • 11:30am-1:00pm Reception | Fireside Lounge

Free classes with Garth Fagan Dance (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Garth Fagan Dance is offering free dance and choreography classes on MLK Day. The classes will be at their studio on 50 Chesnut Street. Here is the schedule for the classes.

  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – 5 to 7 years old
  • 12:15pm – 1:30pm – 8 to 12 years old
  • 12:15pm – 1:30pm – 13 & up (Beginning Level for Teen/Adult)
  • 1:45pm — 3:00pm – All ages (Intermediate Level) – All ages (Intermediate Level)

Garth Fagan, founder of the Rochester studio, is known for choreographing some of the most well-known musicals including The Lion King.

MLK Day of Compassion at Strong Museum (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Join The Strong in celebrating the memory and dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. to create a world of compassion. Enjoy Grace and Grin Puppets performing “Kind Heart”, a show teaching kindness, friendship, and how actions speak louder than words. Delight in a performance by the local YMCA’s Dreamseeds program and design a peace sign using watercolors in the Play Lab.

Rochester Museum and Science Center celebrates legacy of Dr. King (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

RMSC is celebrating the legacy of Dr. King through activities to learn more about the civil rights movement. The activities include:

  • Button-making: Make vintage-inspired buttons with quotes from MLK, his contemporaries, and more.
  • In His Words: Listen and watch important and notable speeches by MLK in the Bausch Auditorium, including “Other America,” I Have a Dream,” and more.
  • Storytime: Cozy up for story hour and listen to stories about people who changed the world!
  • The Green Book: Explore the history, locations and significance of The Green Book Motorist Guide, by Victor Hugo Green. Use the Green Book and maps to explore different routes and locations from this important and essential book.
  • Coloring Station: Take a breather and color MLK themed coloring pages.

Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church panel discussion (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)

The Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church is holding a panel discussion titled The Black Church: Challenges and Opportunities. Dr. Frederick Johnson and Rev. Dr. Richard Douglass are the hosts. You can watch the panel at the church or on YouTube here.

19th Ward light up the neighborhood (noon and at 9 p.m.)

The 19th Ward neighborhood plans to “light up the neighborhood” with luminaries, lanterns, and flashlights to honor Dr. King. The lighting will start at sunset and end at 9 p.m. You can see locations here.

There will also be a keynote address by Rochester City Court Judge Stephen Miller at Arnett Library from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Free ice staking at MLK Park (starting at noon)

The city-owned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park Ice Rink will be open for its normal hours Monday to host the annual “Skate to Commemorate” open-skate event. The admission fee will be waived for skaters who bring two non-perishable hygiene, cleaning or household items for donation.