8 ways kids can celebrate Martin Luther King Day in Pittsburgh

Photo by Beth Barbis.

Organizations around town are planning special events for families to honor the work and legacy of the champion of civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here are eight groups offering programs that families can enjoy while honoring Dr. King through art, music and writing.

1. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The Children’s Museum programmed a full day of activities on Jan. 20. Kids will read the inspiring words of Dr. King aloud at the podium during “King for a Day,” hosted by Saturday Light Brigade Radio. Through the Art Studio’s “Using Your Voice” event, kids will learn how to express their thoughts through media, such as signs, collages and zines. Catch the live webcast, “Streaming Justice,” originating from the SLB radio studio. Teen hosts will feature four hours of music, listener calls and conversations. The webcast will be accessible online, on the Youth Express TuneIn app or the Simple Radio app.

2. Pittsburgh Glass Center

Pittsburgh Glass Center hosts a free Martin Luther King Community Celebration where kids can learn about glass through hands-on activities that demonstrate the importance of teamwork in the creative process. Mind-blowing glassblowing demonstrations will take place throughout the day. Kids can help create a glass mosaic design for the Glass Center’s new Little Free Library that will be installed this spring. Glass won’t be the only thing getting fired: Free kiln-fired pizza will be offered straight from the oven.

3. The Mattress Factory

The Mattress Factory – typically closed on Mondays – will hold its annual MLK Day Celebration with free admission on Jan. 20. The party will include art-making activities like creating the “I Have a Dream-scape,” a collaborative, mixed-media mural. At the Appreciation Station, kids can write a letter to someone who inspired them. Kids will burn off energy dancing to music from Wavy Bunch Sound, a local DJ group that focuses on Afro-Caribbean beats. When they’re ready to refuel, they can head to the cookie and hot chocolate bar.

4. Heritage Gospel Chorale

This year’s Heritage Gospel Chorale’s annual MLK celebration features two “Let Freedom Sing” concerts. The first is Jan. 18 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, followed by a Jan. 20th concert at Woodland Hills High School.

5. Community Day School

Instead of taking the day off, Community Day School in Squirrel Hill will be in session for its fifth observance of MLK Day on Jan. 20. The community is invited to the opening prayer service and a multimedia performance by Emmy Award-winning Emmai Alaquiva. Kids will continue the day under the guidance of this year’s theme, “Nation,” which will involve activities dealing with issues of race, social justice and immigration.

6. Carnegie Library locations

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will host a variety of family-friendly events. On Jan. 15, “Celebrate: Martin Luther King Jr.” offers a dream party at the East Liberty branch where kids from K-5 will learn about the “I Have a Dream” speech and work on a dream-themed project. The Homewood branch explores King’s contributions with “Martin Luther King, Jr.: A National Hero,” an afternoon of stories and activities for kids from K-5 on Jan. 18. Check the calendar for event updates in your neighborhood.

Photo by Beth Barbis.

7. Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Tickets are on sale for the annual East Liberty Celebrates MLK Day at Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Priced at a pay-what-makes-you-happy rate, the Jan. 20th celebration will attract lots of fun-loving families. A diverse mix of community partners will team up to offer exciting performances and family-friendly activities that affirm Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s example of activism. High energy performances include K Theater Dance Complex, the Funky Fly Project and the Balafon West African Dance Ensemble. The day is intended to remind kids of their power to change the world.

8. Poetry Unplugged

The fourth-annual Poetry Unplugged: An MLK Celebration on Jan. 17 at the August Wilson Center is a night of spoken word and music featuring artists from around the country using the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., as inspiration. Mahogany Browne hosts an evening featuring poets Jessica Care Moore and Ursula Rucker, among others. Parental discretion is advised. Best for high school age and up.