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Here’s how to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Pittsburgh

In this Aug. 28, 1963, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
In this Aug. 28, 1963, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Pittsburgh-area organizations are honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday with acts of service, prayer, and more.

The University of Pittsburgh has a whole week of events planned, starting on Monday with the annual MLK Day of Service on Jan. 16. More than 600 students from across Pitt’s five campuses will do local service projects.

In the past, they’ve volunteered at places like the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Department of Veterans Affairs. This year, they’ll be all over the city, including at the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank and Vincentian Home Schenley Gardens.

Clyde Wilson Pickett, Pitt’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion, said the day presents a great opportunity for students to get more involved in off-campus communities.

“Dr. King talked about that life's most persistent and urgent question is, you know, what are we doing to serve others? And we think that it's appropriate for us to provide opportunities to serve the community and certainly to encourage our students to do that,” Pickett said.

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Some Pitt events are even open to the public, including a night with poet Nikki Giovanni and a screening of the documentary “On These Grounds,” followed by a discussion with two of the activists featured in the film and local community advocates.

The Allegheny County Bar Association will also host its 24th annual prayer breakfast on Monday. The event will include a hot meal, short prayer service, and two awards will be presented. U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, the first Black woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania, will receive the Drum Major for Justice award. Lawyer Alysia M. Keating will receive the Distinguished Service Award for her contributions as the bar association’s former director of diversity and gender equality.

Kellie Ware, the bar association’s current director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, said Black lawyers are an “extreme minority” in the profession. In Pittsburgh, which is less diverse than the average metropolitan area in the United States, Black lawyers can feel even more isolated.

Ware said she hopes the breakfast “highlights that Black lawyers are here, that we are in Pittsburgh, that we're doing good work, that we are community oriented, and kind of just shines a light on that.”

“Obviously we know that we have quite a ways to go to actually realize [King’s] dream and his goals,” she said, adding that the breakfast can be a way for people to find new opportunities to get involved and give back to the community.

The event is open to the public, and in lieu of an entry fee, organizers ask that attendees bring diapers, wipes, or formula for the Ebenezer Baptist Church community pantry.

Other ways to commemorate the day:

Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at