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Upcoming events in Pittsburgh honor of MLK Day through art, service

Women sing together dressed in black.
Robert Lee Bailey
Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Let Freedom Sing marks Martin Luther King Day at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, Pittsburgh’s museums and community organizations are hosting an array of events that highlight the life and work of the prominent civil rights activist.

The national holiday, which is observed on the third Monday of every January, seeks to celebrate the birthday and legacy of King and this year it falls on what would have been his 95th birthday.

In Pittsburgh, the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre kicks off their celebrations with “Justice in Action,” a community event in partnership with several Pittsburgh-based activist organizations that will feature performances and family friendly activities. The event will take place from 12:00pm – 3:00pm on Jan. 15, and tickets are donation based.

The 17th annual Let Freedom Sing concert, which brings several area choirs together, will be held this Monday at 7 p.m. at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre. The Heritage Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh and the MLK Festival Singers celebrate the ideals and social justice mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the goal of blurring the geographic, demographic and economic lines separating urban and suburban Pittsburgh in this performance. Master of Ceremonies will be KDKA reporter Mikey Hood. Tickets are “pay what moves you.”

To inspire children and families to continue King’s activism, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will host various events from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm on MLK Day including storytimes, poetry workshops, a collaborative art mural and more. The museum will also have archival videos of King’s speeches shown throughout the day. Admission to these events are included in museum tickets, which cost $18 for adults, $16 for children 2 - 18 and senior citizens.

Throughout the weekend leading up to and on MLK Day, the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater invites community members to watch a compilation of King’s speeches. From Saturday to Monday, the museum’s Art Theater will play the compilation on a loop from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

MLK Day is also recognized as a National Day of Service where people are encouraged to engage in volunteer work and community action. Around the city, people can find various volunteer opportunities to take part in with their local communities.

Following Monday’s national holiday, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center will also host a spoken word poetry night in honor of King at 8 p.m. on Jan. 19. Titled “Poetry Unplugged” the event seeks to highlight King’s philosophies of “non-violence, unification, self-realization and justice” and will feature poets Kayden Hern, Aja Monet, Sunni Patterson and more.

90.5 WESA's Erin Yudt also contributed to this report.

Betül Tuncer is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in Media and Professional Communications and Legal Studies and pursuing a Digital Media certificate and a Museum Studies minor.