MLK honored across Philly with volunteer events, rallies and bell-ringing

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a major day in Philadelphia, marked by volunteer events and commemorations of what would have been the 90th birthday of America’s greatest civil rights leader.

Due to the federal shutdown, an annual bell-ringing ceremony in MLK’s honor at the Liberty Bell will be held using a ceremonial bell at Hotel 21, instead. 

In addition to events celebrating King’s legacy, the 24th annual MLK Day of Service is Philadelphia’s biggest event for helping others, when as many as 150,000 volunteers will join up to do good in roughly 1,800 projects around the city in honor Dr. King.

Below see several of the events happening today in honor of the legacy of Dr. King’s non-violent fight for civil rights on behalf of African Americans and all marginalized peoples.

-Park clean-ups and day of service volunteer events will be held around the city, including litter pick-ups and trail cleaning in parks around the city. Meet-up sites on Jan. 21 include Cobbs Creek Environmental Center (park clean-up and a “painting with a purpose” event), Pennypack Park, Tacony Creek, Bartram’s Garden and Schuylkill Center.

-Museums around Philadelphia will be hosting special MLK-themed educational events, including Woodmere Art Museum, the Please Touch Museum, the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Constitution Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Liberty Museum.

Abington Friends School will host two dozen volunteer events, including hat-making and scarf-making for Mitzvah Circle; assembling winter-care kits with Whosoever Gospel Mission; meal-making for Aid for Friends; and craft and activity kit Assembly for St. Christopher’s Hospital.

Members of Young Professionals Council will be volunteering with Read by 4th and Reading Recycled to create birthday bags from donated books at  Girard College Armory, 2101 S. College Ave., beginning at 9 a.m.

-The Philadelphia MLK Association for Nonviolence’s 32nd Annual National Bell Ringing Ceremony and Annual Drum Major Awards and Benefit Luncheon are expected to be attended by Gov. Tom Wolf, Congressman Dwight and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Normally held at the Liberty Bell, due to the federal government shutdown, a symbolic bell-ringing will be held in main ballroom of the Philadelphia 21 Hotel at 12 noon on Jan. 21. The bell ringing will be followed by the Drum Major Awards, to be presented to: Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairperson of Urban One, Inc. (formerly Radio One) and TV One Cable TV Network, Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams, and Laborer’s International of North America Local Union 332 business manager Samuel Staten, Jr. (Location: Philadelphia 21 Hotel, 17th and Race Streets, noon – 3:00 p.m.)

-A Raise the Wage rally will be held at the Germantown McDonald’s at 29 E. Chelten Ave. at 11:30 a.m., organized by State Senator Art Haywood, POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), the Unitarian Society of Germantown, and Raise the Wage PA.

-At Rutgers University-Camden, volunteer events on Jan. 21 will include: an archaeological survey at the site of a planned community garden at 67 E. Penn St.,  constructing rain and potato barrels at the Parkside Business & Community in Partnership at 1487 Kenwood Ave., cleaning the food pantry at Touch New Jersey Food Pantry at 549 State St., and a bystander intervention workshop held at the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance in the South AB Conference Room of the lower level of the Campus Center on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

Visit to learn more about the service events going on around Philadelphia.