Six Ways to Celebrate MLK Day 2023 in Metro Phoenix

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is this Monday, January 16.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is this Monday, January 16. National Park Service via Flickr

Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed across the country on Monday, January 16.

In Arizona, the last state in the country to officially recognize MLK Day as a holiday, 2023 is the 30th anniversary of formally observing the day.

Around metro Phoenix, there will be plenty of celebrations taking place. Here are some to check out.

Arizona Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee

One of the largest MLK Day events in the Valley begins at 9 a.m. at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, 1401 East Jefferson Street. Participants will walk from the church to Margaret T. Hance Park, 1201 North Third Street, where a festival will take place from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. with a health fair, vendors, live entertainment, and food.

The evening before, at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 15, Pilgrim Rest will host a candlelight church service in honor of King and civil rights.

Arizona State University

ASU's West Campus will observe MLK Day on Wednesday, January 18, with the 32nd Annual MLK March on West. Beginning at 9 a.m., attendees will hear educational presentations about the history of the civil rights movement, a musical program, and a rendition of King's “I Have a Dream” speech by ASU faculty member Charles St. Clair. ASU West is located at 4701 West Thunderbird Road, Glendale.

City of Chandler

The city of Chandler will host a Multicultural Festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, January 14, as part of its Celebration of Unity initiative, featuring cultural performances, kids' activities, food, and more. The festival will take place at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park: Stage Plaza, 178 East Commonwealth Avenue. Before it begins, the public is invited to "Be The Change – Finding Your Movement," a multimedia presentation at 10 a.m. by Dr. Tamika Sanders at the Chandler Downtown Library, 22 South Delaware Street.

City of Mesa

Mesa's event begins at 9 a.m. at Mesa Arts Center's Piper Theater with remarks by city and state leaders.

The parade will run from 11 to noon beginning at Center Street and MLK Way, traveling south on Center Street to First Street and east on First Street to Hibbert.

The MLK Festival will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at The Plaza at Mesa City Center, 56 East Main Street. Activities include special speakers, live music, food, vendors, and a kids' corner.

City of Surprise

Surprise's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration & Service will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 14.

Advance registration is required to participate in the service projects at Valley Vista High School; email [email protected] or call 623-222-1522 to sign up.

From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., attendees can enjoy a program that includes music and a talk by keynote speaker Dr. Eric Williams, curator of religion for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. That event will be held at the Vista Center for the Arts, 15660 North Parkview Place, Surprise.

'Dear Martin: A Jazz Tribute to MLK'

The International Jazz Day AZ Foundation will present "Dear Martin: A Jazz Tribute to MLK" from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, January 14, at the South Mountain Community College Performing Arts Center, 7050 South 24th Street. The show is a live immersive experience of music, storytelling, spoken word, film, and movement in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King, and includes exploring the relevance of jazz to the campaign, and connections to iconic figures such as Aretha Franklin.

Cost is $25, or $45 for VIP tickets. Part of the proceeds benefit the SMCC Stars Scholarship and Nextstudent Academy of the Arts.
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.

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