Many Detroiters will spend today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, engaging in community activism and remembrance of one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our time. King, who was assassinated in April of 1968, would have been 86 years old this year.
There are many events that will be held to commemorate this national holiday. One of these is the MLK Day Rally and Freedom March, which begins on Monday at noon. The rally and march are hosted by the Detroit MLK Day Committee and Central United Methodist Church. The church is the starting point for the march that will head down Woodward Avenue toward downtown.
This year marks the 12th annual Detroit march, and this year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Selma, AL, march for voting rights for African Americans, according to Adayomi Azikiwe, a spokesman for the MLK Day Committee.
“A key message of the march is that the struggle for social rights and peace still continues,” said Adayomi. “This has been demonstrated over and over again as we’ve seen all of the demonstrations across the country. We have a long way to go for progress.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger to Detroit, and a familiar face in the pulpit of the host church.
“Dr. King spoke annually at Central United Methodist Church between the years 1958 and 1968,” explained Adayomi. “In fact, he spoke at the church just three weeks before he was assassinated in March of 1968. He, along with local leaders like Bishop C. L. Franklin, led what was the largest civil rights rally at that time.”
Adayomi said that people who are unable to join the march should remain at the church as there will be a community breakfast provided at 3:00 p.m. immediately following the march.
“We have a cultural program planned after the meal, which will include local poets, musicians and community groups,” he said. “This is a unique event because it directly deals with the actual legacy of Dr. King in his effort to eliminate poverty and promote the need for better health care.”
Adayomi said that he hopes the events shine more attention on challenges that are specific to Detroit.
“There’s a lot of work we have to do here in Detroit. We’re dealing with an increasing poverty rate and a high infant mortality rate,” he said.
The committee is also holding a clothing drive and asking participants to donate new hats, gloves, socks and underwear for the NOAH Project to help the homeless.
To learn more about the rally and march, visit MLKDetroit.org.
Other MLK Day Events in Detroit
Detroit Historical Museum
- Address: 5401 Woodward Ave.
- Phone: (313) 833-7935
- Time: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Cost: Free
- Lowdown: The museum is hosting a variety of activities that help families to learn about King’s life and legacy.
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
- Address: 315 E. Warren Ave.
- Phone: (313) 494-5800
- Time: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. commemorative breakfast; 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. museum activities
- Cost: Museum activities are free with museum admission ($8 for ages 13–61; $5 for kids ages 3–12; free for seniors 62+ and kids under 3). The cost of the breakfast is $35.
- Lowdown: The museum is hosting arts and crafts, musical performances, storytelling, video tributes, special displays and more.
University of Michigan (Detroit Center)
- Address: 3663 Woodward Ave.
- Phone: (313) 593-3584
- Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Cost: Free
- Lowdown: Dr. Marc Lamont Hill’s keynote address is simulcast from Ann Arbor in this 29th annual event, followed by a complimentary lunch and an afternoon discussion by panelists Ken Cockrel Jr. of Detroit Future City, Lawrence Williamson of Midtown Detroit, Inc., and Rico Razo of Detroit’s Department of Neighborhoods.