Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Event Schedule

Published on November 01, 2023

Children's choir singing during the 2020 MLK Jr. wreath-laying ceremony.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in celebrating and promoting the worth of every human being. In his pursuit of equal rights by nonviolent means, Dr. King encouraged diverse cultures to live together in a spirit of love, understanding and service to one another.

In that same spirit, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, through their Community Relations Committee, came together to expand our community's observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg MLK National Holiday Celebration. Through these events, we celebrate those who are committed to carrying Dr. King's legacy forward from generation to generation.

All events will be held rain, sleet, snow or shine! Please reach out to mlk@charlottenc.gov with any questions or concerns.

Atrium Health Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service

This event, which occurs on the actual birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is held to commemorate the life and death of Dr. King. The brief service includes a wreath-laying ceremony and will take place on Monday, Jan. 15, at Marshall Park from 1-2 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade

This year, the holiday parade is back! Whether you plan to attend or participate, mark Saturday, Jan. 13, off on your calendar.

The parade will march down Tryon Street, beginning at Ninth Street and ending at Brooklyn Village Avenue. More than 100 community organizations, marching bands and step and drill teams will participate. Highlights will include floats with the student winners of the CMS MLK Art and Writing Contests and local performance groups.

If you or your organization would like to sign up to be in the parade, register by Dec. 15. Fee information and rules can be found on the registration form.

For those who sign up, there will be a mandatory parade meeting at the Belmont Community Center at 700 Parkwood Ave. on Saturday, Jan. 6, from 9-11 a.m. Explore the parade route.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Did you know that Jan. 15 is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service? Join Keep Charlotte Beautiful, the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association (GCAA) and fellow volunteers in cleaning up litter along Tryon Street in commemoration of the occasion. There will be four cleanups occurring simultaneously along sections of Tryon Street. Anyone interested can sign up online to volunteer at the cleanup of their choosing.

  • Date: Monday, Jan. 15.
  • Time: 10 a.m. to noon.
  • Meeting Location(s): 1200 W. Tyvola Road; 5650 Old Concord Road; 9609 N. Tryon St.; and 8164 S. Tryon St.
  • Streets to be cleaned: Segments of North and South Tryon Streets.

Register to volunteer at a specific site. 

The GCAA will be hosting a volunteer celebration after the event, which volunteers will learn the details of at the cleanup.

Atrium Health Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Growing the Dream Award

Growing the Dream is a luncheon held to recognize Mecklenburg's unsung heroes and community members who work to foster unity and promote diversity and multiculturalism in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The award gives the opportunity to recognize individuals for the following qualities:

  • Designed to recognize the unsung heroes of our community.
  • Honors community members and leaders who foster unity to promote diversity and multiculturism.
  • Grassroot citizens and leaders who embrace service and helping someone else to grow.
  • Called to serve others and consider it an honor to serve others.
  • Grassroot citizens who persevere despise the hardships in their lives.

The nomination period has ended.

Previous Award Winners

2023 Growing the Dream Award Winners

  • Kieth Cockrell
  • Marvin Ellison
  • Eugene Woods

2022 Growing the Dream Award Winners 

  • Dr. David Jacob
  • Ashani Hadiyah Smith

2021 Growing the Dream Award Winners 

  • Tchernavia Montgomery
  • Deborah Woolard

2020 Growing the Dream Award Winners 

  • Gerald Smith
  • Tiffany Jones
  • Debbie Smith
  • Joe McGirt
  • Charis Blackmon
  • Gemini Boyd
  • Curtis Bridges
  • David Legrand

2020 Seed Award Winners

  • Marshall Collins
  • Bob Johnson
  • Willie Martin
  • Tom Baldwin

2020 Root Award Winners

  • David and Nicole Tepper

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Medallion Award

In celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, we are looking for members of the community who embody his contribution to the civil rights of our community and the freedom to be great without limitations. We ask that you, the community, nominate those who exemplify the work of Dr. King for annual awards given in his honor.

The Medallion and Keeper of the Dream Awards celebrate members of the community who step up for others when walking away is the easier thing to do. These members of the community inspire others through their actions. Take a moment and think about who that is for you and nominate them for the 2024 Medallion and Keeper of the Dream Awards.

Read more on “Nominate who you think deserves the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medallion Award.” Please submit your 2024 Medallion Award Nomination by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

Nominees should meet the following criteria:

  • Be a resident of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
  • Promote the ideals of racial equality and social justice as espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. including, but not limited to:
    • Celebrating and promoting the worth of all human beings.
    • Pursuing equal rights by non-violent means.
    • Encouraging people of diverse cultures to live together in a spirit of love and acceptance.
    • Active involvement in community service.
    • Resisting injustice wherever it is found.
    • Promoting inter-group relations and understanding.
  • Can not be a current member of the Community Relations Committee.
  • Can not be a current member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee.

Previous Award Winners

  • 2023: Alma Adams
  • 2022: William (Butch) Simmons
  • 2021: Reverend Benjamin Boswell
  • 2020: Anna Hood and Sarah Coleman (posthumous)
  • 2019: Jacotran Potts
  • 2018: Greg Jackson
  • 2017: Dr. Peter M. Wherry
  • 2016: Reverend Rodney Sadler
  • 2015: Jermaine Nakia Lee
  • 2014: Deborah Walker, Ph.D.
  • 2013: Steve Crump

Previous Winners 1985-2012

  • 2012: (National observance partnered with McCrory YMCA)
  • 2011: Susan Burgess (posthumous)
  • 2010: Dr. David Jacobs
  • 2009: Pastor Barbara Brewton (posthumous)
  • 2008: Julius Chambers, Stephanie Jennings (posthumous) and Valerie Woodard (posthumous)
  • 2007: David L. Taylor
  • 2006: Lenny Springs
  • 2005: Dr. Clifford Jones
  • 2004: Arthur Griffin, Dr. Wilhelmina Rembert, Carson Beckwith and General Cornell A. Wilson Jr.
  • 2003: Donald Baker (posthumous) and Dr. David Hunter
  • 2002: Joseph Powell and Dr. Vernon Herron
  • 2001: Larry B. Murray
  • 2000: Judge Shirley Fulton
  • 1999: Malcolm E. Everett III and James E. Ferguson II
  • 1998: Joe Martin
  • 1997: Diane English
  • 1996: Clara Williams
  • 1995: Jack L. Bullard
  • 1994: Robert L. Davis Jr.
  • 1993: Theresa D. Elder
  • 1992: Bishop George E. Battle Jr.
  • 1991: Ron Leeper
  • 1990: Dr. Leon Riddick
  • 1989: Dr. Loomis McGlohon
  • 1988: Harvey Gantt
  • 1987: Dr. Douglas W. Olderburg
  • 1986: Sarah Stevenson
  • 1985: Kelly Alexander Sr., Marion Cannon, Kitty Huffman, and Charles Jones


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. P.E.A.C.E. Basketball Showcase presented by Back to the Basics Academy

This year’s showcase will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at West Charlotte High School. Admission to the showcase will be $10.

Back To The Basics is a nonprofit organization located in the Greater Charlotte region that was formed in 1997 to provide youth of all economic backgrounds a greater opportunity for Amateur Athletic competitions.

Divine 9 Panel Discussion

Join for a conversation with the Divine 9! Leaders in our community who are members of the Divine 9 will come together to discuss their path in leadership and provide keys to navigating their journey to success. There will be a number of professions represented that vary from law, technology, finance to education. 

The panel will be held on Friday, Jan. 12, at JCSU from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will take place in the Grimes Lounge, and no registration is required.

Atrium Health National Observance and CMS Arts Writing Contest Awards

This event will be a multimedia display of the arts, featuring Charlotte-Mecklenburg School students in spoken word, music and dance performances, as well as their paintings, sculptures and other works of art. The program will engage people of all ages in reflecting on the words of Dr. King as a moral opinion leader.

Renowned journalist, author, international speaker and political commentator Roland Martin will be the featured speaker at this event.

It will be Sunday, Jan. 14, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Mayfield Memorial Baptist Church.