Every year, organizations throughout the Iowa City area organize a series of events that celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. These events help remember his legacy while also working toward expanding human rights today. This page will continue to be updated in the coming days and weeks. 

To see a list of community events, visit mlk.uiowa.edu.  

Library's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Teen Event Series

5-7 p.m. every Friday in January, at UAY Swaim Youth Center, 355 Iowa Ave

To celebrate and honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., UAY and the Iowa City Public library are co-conspiring to bring weekly middle and high-school-geared programming throughout the month of January. Events will be held every Friday from 5-7 pm at the UAY Swaim Youth Center and will include the following:

January 6- Learn

We’ll read, learn and discuss Dr. King’s life and role in the Civil Rights movement. The first 30 people to show up to the session will receive a free copy of the graphic novel March, by American icon Congressman John Lewis, written by Lewis himself as well as Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell.

January 13- Speak

Youth are invited to speak/sing/act/dance the truth Dr King has instilled in them. Interested performers can register with ICPL by emailing victoria-fernandez@icpl.org.

January 20- Create

Staff will showcase the art of/inspired by the civil rights movement and youth will have an opportunity to make and present their work.

January 27- Serve

Like many in the civil rights movement, meeting their community’s basic needs was a priority. We’ll learn about service projects of civil rights and distribute food we’ve been collecting throughout the month to those who need it in our community.

'Martin's Big Words' Storytime with the African American Museum of Iowa 

10:30-11 a.m., Thursday, January 12, 2023, at Iowa City Public Library's Storytime Room


Who was Dr. King? Why do people today still think his words are so important? Join us for a special Storytime with the book "Martin's Big Words," about Martin Luther King, and then work together to create a project to keep Dr. King’s dream alive while learning cooperation and service with Jenny from the African American Museum of Iowa.

Sunday Fun Day craft project: make freedom bells

1-4 p.m. Sunday, January 15, 2023, at Iowa City Public Library's Storytime Room 

Join us to create a bell craft and "let freedom ring" as we prepare to recognize and reflect on Dr. King's life and work across the country tomorrow! Sunday Fun Day is a drop-in craft program for all ages. Attend anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. Young children will need the assistance of an adult.

Day of Service

Various times Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Mercer Park and Aquatic Center

Iowa City's Day of Service will start with a Unity Rally and March at 9:45 a.m. (starting from UAY at Eastdale Plaza and walking to Mercer Park Gym). After the Unity Rally and March there will be a celebratory program at the Mercer Park Gym, including entertainment performances, a keynote speaker, and free lunch.

Several service-based activities for participants along with some other activities for children and families will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 pm. Parking is available on-site. Individuals of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend! Activities include:

  • Creation of 150 care kits for unhoused in our community; will be received by Shelter House.
  • Seeds of Diversity: kids and families can decorate a pot and plant seeds!
  • Creation of a community art project that will be hung at Mercer through February. 
  • Team building activities, creation of encouraging notes for 150 care kits, and a lot more.

StoryJAM--Songs of Change

10:30-11 a.m. Monday, January 16, 2023, at Iowa City Public Library's Storytime Room

The Library will celebrate the legacy and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a special StoryJAM. Participants will be encouraged to lift their voices in songs of protest from the Civil Rights Era and beyond, share stories about Dr. King, and watch a short film at the conclusion. 

Senior Volunteer Fair

2-4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, Iowa City Senior Center's Assembly Room

The start of a new year is a great time to get acquainted with some of the many outstanding organizations that serve our community, learn about volunteer opportunities, and get involved in something new! The Senior Center is hosting a senior-focused volunteer fair. It will highlight both organizations that directly serve older adults and those that specifically recruit seniors to fulfill their volunteer needs. Join us for an afternoon of lively conversation, enlightening exploration, and community engagement. All are welcome to attend; no registration is needed!