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MLK Day Parades May Be Canceled, But You Can Still Serve

An illustration of Martin Luther King Jr is displayed on a laptop computer. The graphic says "MLK DAY." The laptop is against a graphic yellow background.
Los Angeles is finding safe ways to celebrate MLK Day in 2022.
(Alborz Kamalizad / LAist / Graphic courtesy of Leadership Long Beach)
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Even though some traditional parades and events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the L.A. area have been canceled because of the pandemic, some Day of Service efforts are still happening, although most are socially distanced, virtual or do-it-yourself.

Here are a few around town:

Leadership Long Beach

Leadership Long Beach had to postpone its in-person MLK Day of Service gardening and beautification projects for the second year in a row. But Executive Director Shawn Devereaux says the group is pivoting to collecting supplies for care packages for residents.

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A large warehouse space is filled with an assortment of grocery goods. A handwritten sign at the front reads "MLK DAY of service. Thank you for your support."
Leadership Long Beach's donation drive in 2021
(Courtesy of Leadership Long Beach)

The group is asking for donations of household items, cleaning supplies, hygiene products and food at a central location in Long Beach. Food pantries and other nonprofits will distribute the goods around the city.

Another project asks people to write caring letters and cards to residents of local nursing homes.

Big Sunday

The nonprofit Big Sunday is scaling back its annual in-person block party, but it’s still happening Monday, Jan. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 6111 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.

It’s a community breakfast and new warm clothing collection event. Added this year is the Big Sunday MLK Day Marketplace, where visitors can buy items from minority-owned businesses.

California African-American Museum

Events at the California African-American Museum were moved online mid-January. However the museum remains open, with face masks required, during its regular hours. Guests ages 12 and over must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in the previous 72 hours.

On Monday from 11 a.m. to noon, a King Study Group will convene online to read and discuss King’s 1967 speech, “A Christmas Sermon on Peace.”

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Noon: The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles performs “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and a medley of classic spirituals and original compositions.

LA Works

The nonprofit volunteer action group LA Works has several virtual Day of Service options, all of them virtual. They include learning to become an online tutor, and volunteering to share your civil rights experiences with students.

Kids who are into the web game Minecraft can participate in a Minecraft March on Washington, re-creating the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

LA Works was founded in 1991 after the police beating of Rodney King.

The State Of California

The Governor’s Office of California Volunteers has a website where groups can register MLK Day volunteer activities, and you can search for activities.

There’s also a page that describes ongoing volunteer opportunities.


The federal domestic volunteer service known as AmeriCorps has joined with a number of other volunteer organizations to create a search tool to direct you to service opportunities near you.

It has a filter for MLK Day activities as well as for volunteering in general, and you can enter broad categories such as literacy, technology or housing to customize your search.

Full Moon Hike in Malibu’s Charmlee Wilderness Park

In his best-known speech, Dr. King said, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” and while this moonlight hike isn’t explicitly MLK-themed, you can represent on this guided hike.

Malibu city Community Services staffers will lead a 90-minute educational hike Monday for people ages 14 and older. Check in is at 5:15 p.m. and the hike begins at 5:30 p.m. at 2577 Encinal Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265.

Wear hiking boots or sturdy closed-toe shoes for the uneven terrain, bring water, and dress in layers.

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