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Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?"
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Change

The City of Tacoma’s signature event, the 28th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, seeks to build on that message by highlighting young men of color as community assets. Often, the narrative around young men of color is one of violence and deficiency. During this event, we want to challenge that narrative while acknowledging the institutional and structural systems that create barriers to justice for young men of color. We encourage the entire community to join together to celebrate Monday, January 18, 2016 as a day on, not a day off. This year’s theme is Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Change.


Event Details

The event will feature keynote speaker, Dr. William Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs. Dr. Bell is also one of the founding partners of Cities United, a national movement focused on eliminating the violence in American cities related to African American men and boys.  The MLK celebration will include music, dance, and poetry that highlight the strength, resiliency and creativity of young men of color. Performances will focus on Dr. King’s relationship with communities, how he challenged and changed our nation, and his message to honor the dignity and rights of every person. 


The Martin Luther King , Jr. Community Service Award

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recognizes and encourages excellence in community service activities, carried out by an individual or a group.

The nomination deadline (November 30) has passed, and the process is closed to further 2016 nominations.


Location, Date and Time

The event is expected to draw roughly 2,000 - 3,000 adults and children.

Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center

1500 Broadway

Tacoma, WA

Map and Directions

10 AM - Doors open

11 AM - Event starts

Attendees are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food items for the MLK Food Drive benefiting Emergency Food Network.


Available Parking

In addition to free holiday on-street parking and free parking at Freighthouse Square located at 2501 E. D Street. Freighthouse Square is is easily accessible via LINK Light Rail from the Convention Center stop. There will also be signage and personnel directing event attendees to designated complimentary parking stalls that will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. 


City Events and Recognition Committee

The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration program is spearheaded by a City Council-appointed City Events and Recognition Committee. The Committee is comprised of local community leaders from a broad array of backgrounds and areas of expertise.

The City Events and Recognition Committee serves as an advisory and action committee on matters pertaining to City-hosted events and special recognition programs. Members are responsible for planning, reviewing and evaluating events, engaging the community in its fundraising efforts, and soliciting corporate and private sponsorships to leverage funds for City-hosted events such as the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration.


The Celebration Will Be Televised

The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration is also covered and aired on TV Tacoma, which is carried on both the Click! and Comcast Cable systems.

Channel 12
In Tacoma City limits and Pierce County
Channel 21
University Place
Channel 12
In Tacoma City Limits and Pierce County


Time and Location

January 18, 2016
11 AM until 1 PM

Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center
1500 Broadway
Tacoma, WA 98402

Map and Directions

Contact Information
Kala Dralle
(253) 573-2523