On the third Monday in January each year, communities across the country celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a variety of events and activities. However, in Nashville, Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations can last up to two weeks.
If you're looking for a way to celebrate and honor the lasting impact of one of America's most revolutionary civil rights leaders, these concerts, marches, demonstrations, and events make the perfect addition to your trip to Nashville this January.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day will take place on January 21, 2019, but many of the following events will take place before or after the holiday itself. From a night out at the Symphony to a decades-old march across the Tennessee State University campus, these MLK Day events are sure to educate, inspire, and entertain you on this important national holiday.
Let Freedom Sing With the Nashville Symphony
Each year, the Nashville Symphony hosts a special concert in honor of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Known as " Let Freedom Sing," this annual concert is free to attend and features the Nashville Symphony accompanied by adult and youth choruses drawn from the local community.
During the concert, the orchestra will perform an arrangement of classic pieces while photographs of the triumphs of the civil rights movement, provided by the Nashville Public Library, are projected on a large screen above the stage.
The concert will start at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 20, 2019, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Although the event is free to attend, you will need to reserve your seats at the box office in advance; you can pick up your tickets starting at 4 p.m.
Celebrate Jewish Allyship in Southwest Nashville
Each year, the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennesse partners with Congregation Sherith Israel and the Gordon Jewish Community Center (GJCC) in southwest Nashville to present two unique Martin Luther King Jr.
In the morning on MLK Day, Congregation Sherith Israel will present a special sermon at the Lee Chapel AME Church that speaks about the relationship between Jewish and African American communities during the civil rights movement of MLK's era and today. Later in the afternoon, you can then head over to the GJCC for a special lecture by a guest author, speaker, or activist—details for 2019 have not yet been released.
Both events are free to attend, but be sure to check ahead for exact timing and location of events in 2019.
Join the Martin Luther King Jr. Day March
For over two decades, the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship of Nashville (IMFN) has organized a youth rally, ceremonial march, and convocation in honor of the King Day of Service, which was initiated by Congress in 1994 to transform the federal holiday into a day of community service and engagement.
The event kicks off on January 21, 2019, with the youth rally from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Jefferson Street Baptist Church. Guest speakers and activists will lead youth participants to the main march, which will depart from the intersection of 28th and Jefferson Streets near the Tennessee State University (TSU) campus at 10 a.m. The hour-long march across the TSU campus concludes at the Gentry Complex, where an invocation will be led by a guest speaker from 11 a.m. to noon.
Along with the MLK March, the IMFN also typically hosts a series of other celebrations in conjunction with other organizations including TSU and the Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society. IMFN normally runs events all week long in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Learn About MLK's Legacy at Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University—a medicine, education, and liberal arts private research school between Midtown and Music Row in Nashville—celebrates MLK Day each year with a COmmemorative Series that runs almost two weeks long and includes everything from films about MLK to special mixer events.
Students and visitors alike can join in the city-wide march, community service, educational forums, and special guest lectures. While the bulk of events will take place over MLK Day weekend, be sure to check the Vanderbilt calendar closer to the holiday for a full list of activities, talks, and community service projects.
Discover MLK Day History at the Discovery Center
Located about 35 miles southeast of Nashville in Murfreesboro, the Children's Museum inside the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring will host a free admission day in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on January 21, 2019.
The Discovery Center is a children's museum, nature center, and wetlands boardwalk with exhibits explaining town life, natural sciences, transportation, and civic services. Featuring special activities about the life and legacy of Dr. King Jr., this annual event is a great destination if you're looking to get away from the crowds, especially if you're traveling with younger children.