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Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of education.” 
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



The Convention Center hotel construction has impacted the parking availability in and around the Convention Center building. Below is information about where to park. In previous years reserved- and general-parking were allowed in F-lot and A-lot. F-lot is not currently a reserved-parking possibility, and the A-lot is being used approximately 50% by Marriott hotel guests during the construction. The under-building A-lot will be available for special guests only, whose names have been added to a check-in list. If you arranged for reserved seating, but do not know if you are on the reserved parking list, please call (253) 573-2523.

General parking— general public, volunteers, RSVP guests, etc.
All on-street parking is free on the holiday, and we encourage you to take advantage of that. The Convention Center D-lot is accessible via Court C between S. 15th and 17th streets. The E-lot is accessible via S. 17th St. just below Market St. Both lots are free all day.

The Pacific Plaza Garage at 1137 Commerce St. is approximately two blocks from the Convention Center just north of S. 13th St. Parking will be free in this garage all day.

The Tacoma Dome Station parking garage is located on Puyallup Ave. at E. “E” St. Take the light rail train from S. 25th St. across from Freighthouse Square and get off at the convention center stop.


Dr. Dexter Gordon to Receive 30th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award

The 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recipient is Dr. Dexter Gordon, director of the Race & Pedagogy Institute at the University of Puget Sound. Dr. Gordon is a published author, professor and community advocate for social change. He demonstrates exemplary leadership that embodies the values of equity and inclusion and, for many years, has promoted and advocated for a campus environment and city that embraces racial and cultural differences.

“The committee is thrilled to present the service award to Dr. Dexter Gordon,” said Events and Recognition Committee Chair Erin Lee. “A former student of his said that taking his class was a life-changing experience. That testimonial and all of the other community comments about Dr. Gordon convinced us he truly embodies this year’s theme, ‘Be the Change.’”

This lifetime service award is presented each year at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration. It recognizes and encourages excellence in community service activities carried out by an individual, organization or group whose efforts reflect the essence of Dr. King’s teachings.


Keynote Speaker Announced

The featured keynote speaker will be Nate Bowling, 2014 recipient of the Milken Family Foundation's National Educator Award, the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year, and currently teaches advanced placement courses at Lincoln High School in Tacoma.


2018 Community Service Award Nominations Now Closed

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award nomination period is now closed. Please consider nominating someone for the 2018 City of Destiny Awards. Applications due January 26, 2018.


To learn about previous Community Service Award winners, view a list of past award recipients.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Will Be on January 15, 2018

The 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration in Tacoma will once again bring the community together to celebrate Monday, January 15, 2018 as a day on, not a day off. 



Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

January 15, 2018

10 AM - Doors open

11 AM - Event starts

Greater Tacoma Convention Center

1500 Commerce Street

Tacoma, WA 98402

Map and Directions


Available Parking

There is free holiday on-street parking and free parking at Freighthouse Square (2501 E. D Street). Freighthouse Square is easily accessible via the LINK Light Rail and stops at the Convention Center. There will also be signage 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 and the City of Destiny Awards.


The Celebration Will Be Televised on TV Tacoma

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


Other MLK Day 2018 Events

South Puget Sound, Pierce/Thurston

January 10, 11:15 AM, MLK Jr. Celebration: A Focus on Activism, Bates Technical College, Downtown Campus

Event Information


January 13, 10 AM, City of Lakewood
Event Information  


January 13, 6 PM, South Puget Sound Community College
Event Information

January 13, 7:30 PM, LA Theaterworks’ The Mountaintop
Event Information  


January 14, 2:30 PM, Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision Interfaith Service
Event Information  


January 15, 9 AM, Annual Community March for MLK, Bates Technical College, Downtown Campus cafeteria on 11th Street and Yakima Avenue
Event Information


January 15, 8 AM, UW Tacoma MLK Unity Breakfast
Event Information

January 15, 9 AM, Ohop Creek Habitat Restoration in Eatonville
Event Information

January 15, 9 AM, Metro Parks Tacoma Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Caring
Event Information

January 15, 9 AM, Pierce Conservation District Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Event Information


February 3, South PS Community College Legacy Conference 
Event Information

North of Pierce County
South Seattle
January 15, 8 AM 
Event Information

January 15, 6 PM, New Beginning Christian Fellowship (Evergreen Association of ABC, USA)

King County
January 15, all day, University of Washington 
Event Information

January 15, 11 AM, NW African American Museum
Event Information

Time and Location

January 15, 2018

Doors open at 10 AM

Community Outreach Fair 10 - 11 AM
Main Program 11 AM- 1 PM

Greater Tacoma Convention Center
1500 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402

Map and Directions

Contact Information
Kala Dralle
(253) 573-2523