Arts & Culture

5 to Try for MLK Weekend in Charlotte

Commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with these five (plus one) events happening in Charlotte.

MLK Parade - Photo by Jim Eisner

MLK Holiday Parade

Tryon Street, Uptown Charlotte
Saturday, Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. – Noon
Cost: Free


The City of Charlotte and Atrium Health hosts the Martin Luther King Jr. 2019 Holiday parade in Uptown. The parade will start at 9th Street and end at Stonewall Street. Since it began in 1981, more than 110 community organizations, marching bands, and step and drill teams have participated and continued this annual tradition. The student winners of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School MLK Art and Writing contests will also be aboard floats.

Call to Service - Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Carolinas

Call to Service

City of Charlotte
Saturday, Jan. 19 from Noon – 2 p.m.
Cost: Free


Was your New Year's resolution to give back to the community? Spend more time as a family? Volunteer your time to help others? Here’s a way to embody Dr. King’s life of service by volunteering to serve yourself. United Way of Central Carolinas has coordinated service projects throughout Charlotte to help local nonprofit organizations, schools and partner agencies around the city. With multiple family-friendly projects to complete, this event is perfect for all ages. Donations of various items are always accepted.

Second Ward High School Gym - Photo courtesy of City of Charlotte

P.E.A.C.E. High School Basketball Showcase

Second Ward High School Gym
Saturday, Jan. 19 from 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Cost: $10 at door


In 1923, Second Ward High School was the first public high school for African-American students in Charlotte. Although the school’s final graduating class was in 1969, the Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation keeps the school’s Charlotte legacy alive through books, museum exhibits, a documentary film and special events. The Second Ward Gym is a historical landmark designed by A.G. Odell, Jr., who also designed the original Charlotte Coliseum (now Bojangles’ Coliseum). The City of Charlotte recently reopened the gym in August 2018.

Come cheer on high school athletes from local schools. Eight teams from across North and South Carolina will compete in the invitational competition, presented by Back to the Basics Basketball Academy. There will also be a College Fair during the games.

Photo courtesy of Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture

MLK Day Celebration

Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
Monday, January 21 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Free


The Harvey B. Gantt Center presents, preserves and celebrates excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent. It serves as a reflective prism to promote African-American art, culture and history for the enlightenment of all. Food Lion presents an all-day MLK Celebration at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture. Admission to the museum is free so that you can enjoy a day filled with art-making workshops, panel discussions and film screenings.

Photo courtesy of Kelontae Gavin

Gospel Showcase with Kelontae Gavin

Central Piedmont Community College, Halton Theater
Saturday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m.
Cost: $15
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Singer Kelontae Gavin will sing at CPCC in Charlotte. Groups such as The Park Church, DeMario Mr.Mime Carr, The Connecting Place At Greater Salem and DRC are just a few of the special performances that will be at the showcase. Youth groups, choirs, dance ministries and praise teams are invited to attend for a foot-stomping good time.

MLK National Observance - Photo by Jon Strayhorn

Plus 1

MLK National Observance

Central Piedmont Community College, Halton Theater
Monday, Jan. 21 from 10 a.m. – Noon
Cost: Free


This special event is a celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and our talented African-American community. A multimedia display of the arts will feature Charlotte-Mecklenburg students who will share spoken word, music and dance performances. Select paintings, sculptures and works of arts will also be on display. Speaker Dr. John Mendez will engage everyone to reflect on the words on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The program will also reveal this year’s recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Medallion Award.

For more events throughout Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, visit mlk.charlottenc.gov