23 ways to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2023 across Minnesota

Martin Luther King, Jr
Martin Luther King Jr delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech. People and organizations across the country are gearing up to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
Photo: Rowland Scherman, via National Archives

People and organizations across the country are gearing up to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.

Among the largest events in Minnesota is the 2023 Annual MLK Holiday Breakfast, a fundraiser breakfast in Minneapolis organized by UNCF and General Mills. 

“This event, we join our voices to reaffirm the value and the words and the legacy of Dr. King, one of his famous quotes, ‘If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk, and if you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward,’” said Laverne McCartney Knighton, area development director for UNCF.

“That’s where we are in this country today. We have a lot of disparities and issues that have to be resolved here in Minnesota.”

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“Our state saw a lot of evolution and change after the murder of George Floyd, but here we are in 2023 pushing forward and encouraging and inviting our communities because change does need to happen, and it only happens when you keep moving to make it happen,” McCartney Knighton said.

The 33rd annual breakfast will honor Appetite for Change and Twin Cities independent journalist Georgia Fort. The keynote speaker will be Valerie Jarrett, the CEO of the Barack Obama Foundation.

The roughly 800 in-person tickets sold out faster than expected, but the breakfast also will be live-streamed — organizers say thousands of people have attended the event virtually since the first virtual breakfast in 2020. 

This hybrid format allows “a lot of groups across the Twin Cities to host viewing parties, and grant a more accessible and inclusive viewership for those who have mobility issues or hesitation to be in-person,” McCartney Knighton said.

Another celebration expected to draw a crowd is the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation board’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration with keynote speaker Coach Larry McKenzie, who was the first coach in state history to win four consecutive basketball state titles. The celebration includes the presentation of a “Living the Dream” award.

They get quite a few nominees each year: “It’s always a tough decision trying to narrow it down because you’re looking at a lot of individuals or organizations that are all giving back in the community. But that’s a good problem to have,” said Tom Godfrey, the board’s manager of events.

The award recognizes the work of giving back to the Black community. Godfrey said the award’s theme follows MLK’s saying, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” 

This year’s recipient is the Sanneh Foundation, an organization that provides free soccer clinics and camps and personal instruction from retired soccer player Tony Sanneh across the Twin Cities. In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, the foundation also hosted free food giveaways.

“Those are some of the more highlights offhand with them that popped out as to why they were chosen this year,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey said the celebration is his favorite event of the year.

“Doing an event on Dr. King holiday is very meaningful in itself. But then having so many people that want to be involved, like when we ask keynote speakers or an emcee, they get excited about it. It's a lot of work putting it together, but I look forward to seeing it every year.”

Events celebrating MLK Day

Saturday, Jan. 14

MLK Now 2023: The Impact of Gentrification on Rondo: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Free to attend conference; $35 to attend 6-10 p.m. concert fundraiser. Amherst H. Wilder Foundation conference center, 451 Lexington Parkway North, St. Paul.

Sunday, Jan. 15

MLK Purple Table Talk organized by Sisters Need a Place: 3-5 p.m. Free. SNAP House, 2411 N. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis.

42nd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert: 3 p.m. Free, tickets not required. Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota, 2128 4th St., Minneapolis.

Monday, Jan. 16


2023 Annual MLK Holiday Breakfast with keynote speaker CEO Valerie Jarrett of the Barack Obama Foundation: 8-9:30 a.m. $65 to attend in person (sold out), $30 to attend online. Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom, 1301 2nd Ave. S, Minneapolis.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Powderhorn Recreation Center, 3400 15th Ave. S, Minneapolis.

Black, Bold, and Brilliant 3rd Annual MLK Black Youth Talent Showcase: 3:30-5:30 p.m. Free. Episcopal Church in Minnesota, 1101 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis.

MLK Day Criminal Justice Reform Legislative Preview: 6 p.m. Free. Sabathani Community Center Auditorium, 310 E 38th St., Suite 120, Minneapolis.

MLK Day Celebration with Jearlyn Steele: 7 p.m. $25-$35. Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration: 6:30-8 p.m. Free. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S, Minneapolis.

St. Paul

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast by Faith City Church: 8 a.m. Free. G.W. Cultural Center for Innovation, 781 E 7th St., St. Paul.

37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration: Building Black Wealth: 10 a.m. Free. Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St, St Paul.

Martin Luther King Day Reparations 101 Brunch: 2-5 p.m. Free. Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, 788 E 7th St., St. Paul.


Community Breakfast livestreaming keynote CEO Valerie Jarrett: 7-9:30 a.m. Free. First United Methodist Church 230 E Skyline Parkway, Duluth.

Gathering and March: 10-11:45 a.m. Free. Washington Center Gym, 310 N 1st Ave W, Duluth.

MLK Rally: Noon-1:30 p.m. Free. Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Symphony Hall, 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth.


MLK Day of Service 2023: 1-4 p.m. Free. Mav Ave. of the Centennial Student Union at MSU Manakto, 620 West, S Rd, Mankato.

St. Cloud

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration 2023: 7:30-10:30 a.m. Free. River’s Edge Convention Center 10 4th Ave S, St. Cloud.

St. Peter

MLK Memorial Celebration: Conversation with Justice Alan Page: 10-11:20 a.m. Free. Christ Chapel at Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 West College Avenue, St Peter.

5 other ways to participate

Volunteer through HandsOn Twin Cities.

Shop at Black-owned businesses listed in the Minnesota Black-Owned Business Directory.

Visit local historical sites relevant to Black history in Minneapolis.

Support local Black artists and Black-led arts organizations.

Plan a visit to the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery.