How to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Indianapolis, IN

A sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. reaching his hand out to the sky

One half of the Landmark for Peace Memorial | Photo via the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

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Next Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day + we’re breaking down his presence in the Circle City and what you can do to honor his life and legacy.

How is Dr. King connected to Indianapolis?

He visited the Circle City several times, often staying with his friend and fellow civil rights leader Rev. Andrew J. Brown. He also spoke downtown in 1958 at the Cadle Tabernacle on Ohio + New Jersey streets. The church was demolished 10 years later and townhomes have taken its place.

Does the city have a dedication to Dr. King?

The Landmark for Peace Memorial — located within Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park on the near north side — is a memorial to both Dr. King + Robert F. Kennedy, who gave an improvised speech about unity to a large crowd in Indianapolis upon hearing the news of Dr. King’s assassination. He was in the city on April 4, 1968 for his campaign tour.

What can I do to celebrate?

Service and community were essential themes to Dr. King’s work, so many of Indy’s public attractions are free on this day.

Pro tip: Reserve those tickets — they sell out quickly.

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration | Thurs., Jan. 13 | 12-1:30 p.m. | Indiana Statehouse | Free | Join the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Indiana Black Expo, Inc. and AFSCME at this annual event honoring Dr. King’s legacy.
  • MLK Day Self-guided Hike | Sat., Jan. 15 | 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | Earth Discovery Center, Eagle Creek Park | Free | Pick up a quiz on the meaning of MLK Day + do a half-mile hike to find the answers.
  • MLK Day: Speaking Love | Sun., Jan. 16 | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Newfields | Free | A jazz pianist, spoken word poet, storyteller, and dance company will perform throughout this day of reflection.
  • Free Day: Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Mon., Jan. 17 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Indiana State Museum | Free | The museum will play videos of Dr. King’s most iconic speeches + host activities and performances that explore civil and human rights.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Mon., Jan. 17 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Children’s Museum of Indianapolis | Free | Celebrate Dr. King with special performances by The Griot Drum Ensemble.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Mon., Jan. 17 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Eiteljorg Museum | Free | Explore Native + Western art and artifacts during the final day of Jingle Rails.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Mon., Jan. 17 | 9 a.m.-4 p.m. | Indianapolis Zoo | Free | Weather permitting, the zoo will be collecting donations for Gleaners Food Bank on this day.
  • Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Mon., Jan. 17 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | NCAA Hall of Champions | Free | A scavenger hunt will be organized for hourly raffle prices of official NCAA merch.
  • 40th Annual “Day of Celebration” for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. | Mon., Jan. 14 | 12 p.m. | Virtual | Hosted by the Madam Walker Legacy Center, join this free virtual event for a conversation with media pioneer Cathy Hughes — Founder & Chairperson of Urban One, Inc.
  • Shining a Light Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. | Fri., Jan. 14-Mon., Jan. 17 | 6:45, 8:15 + 10:15 p.m. | Monument Circle | Free | Stop by Monument Circle for a brief light show in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. displayed on the AES Indiana building.
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