• City of Tacoma QA
  • City of Tacoma OpenData

Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

                                                   - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The City of Tacoma’s Events and Recognitions Committee (CERC) announced the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration Community Service Award recipients. The Community Service Awards recognize excellence in community service activities carried out by an individual, organization, or group and seeks to encourage similar efforts by others who may want to serve in the community. These awards are presented each year during the City’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration.

CERC honored Gloria Joy Kazuko Muhammad with the Emerging Leader Award and Lisa Mathusz with the Lifetime Service Award. Mayor Victoria Woodards presented a Special Recognition to Pastor Gregory Christopher during the annual celebration that took place on Monday, January 15, 2024.


This year’s event theme was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration: A Community Blueprint - Building Block by Block. The program, hosted by KING 5’s Lionel Donovan, encouraged attendees to consider the words from Dr. King’s speech, “What is Your Life’s Blueprint?” and featured local performers and speakers who work and volunteer to ensure that Tacoma embodies equity, hope, and a commitment of growth to the foundation of its community. Among those scheduled to perform or speak were Northwest Sinfonietta, Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, Tracie L. Davis Memorial Choir, and 2023-2025 Tacoma Poet Laureate Christian Paige. A keynote address was given by Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard of Mount Vernon, New York, the President of the African American Mayors Association. CERC selects the honorees to receive awards and oversees the annual production of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration.


“The City’s Events and Recognitions Committee is excited to honor our community by celebrating its rich diversity, artistic talents, and unwavering strength. Let us come together to build a brighter future for Tacoma, while simultaneously honoring the legacy of our community. With arts, culture, and conversations of unity, we can create a strong foundation that will inspire generations to come,” said CERC Chair Jessica Johnston. For more information about the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, visit tacomavenues.org/mlk-celebration.



Gloria Joy Kazuko Muhammad is a writer, teaching artist, and educator. A graduate of Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab, she is the founding volunteer of Healers Connect. She hosts virtual writing workshops rooted in healing and personal development. As a strong advocate for social justice, she works with several sustainability and community gardens in Tacoma.



Lisa Mathusz is an advocate for the Vietnamese community. She is the organizer for Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, and has been an advocate for Vietnamese seniors, youth, and mothers in Tacoma since 1978, including Vietnamese refugee women experiencing domestic violence, as well as genderqueer and non-binary youth in her community.



Gregory Christopher of Shiloh Baptist Church is a graduate of A.L. Hardy Academy of Theology, where he pursued and received a Doctor of Ministry, as well as a Master of Theology. He is also the current president of the Tacoma Branch of the NAACP.


About the City’s Events and Recognitions Committee

The City’s Events and Recognitions 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 planning efforts, and soliciting corporate and private sponsorships to leverage funds for City-hosted events such as City of Destiny and the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration.



Watch the 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award Celebration



Past Recipients of the MLK Community Service Awards 

View a list of prior years' recipients. 


Interest in serving on a Tacoma committee, board or commission? Go to www.cityoftacoma.org/servetacoma


Event Details

The broadcast will be televised throughout January 2024 on TV Tacoma and now available on YouTube.


January 15, 2024

Community Outreach Fair:
10 - 11 AM

11 AM

Greater Tacoma Convention Center (1500 Commerce St, Tacoma, WA 98402)

Street parking is free, including the Convention Center parking garage.


Contact Information

Ashley Young
Email (253) 573-2523