On the 50th anniversary of his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, the National Constitution Center will look back on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—whose life was tragically cut short in 1968. The centerpiece of the day will be an awe-inspiring reading of the speech by local actors as well as a concert with blues singer Alexis P. Sutter, featuring songs performed at the actual march. Visitors can also join a discussion about Bayard Rustin—the architect of the March on Washington and a close mentor of Dr. King’s—with scholar Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Rustin biographer Michael Long alongside select readings from the play Rustin and the March by William DiCanzio. The museum is partnering with White Pines Productions, Global Philly, the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia to explore the history of the civil rights movement through a variety of interactive programs and workshops.
Rustin and the March
F.M. Kirby Auditorium
Visitors can join a discussion about Bayard Rustin—the architect of the March on Washington and a close mentor of Dr. King’s—with scholar Emma Lapsansky-Werner and Rustin biographer Michael Long alongside select readings from the play Rustin and the March by William DiCanzio. This program is presented in partnership with White Pines Productions.
Musical Performance by Alexis P. Suter
Grand Hall Overlook
The Center will host a concert featuring singer Alexis P. Suter, performing her own original work as well as some of the 1960s favorites that were performed by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and other music legends at the 1963 March on Washington.
“I Have a Dream” Speech Dramatic Reading
Grand Hall Overlook
Local actors will perform a powerful, theatrical recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Stories of ’68: Memories of Dr. King
The 1968 Exhibit
As part of our Stories of ’68 program, visitors will share their personal memories of Dr. King, the civil rights movement, and the March on Washington.
MLK and His Legacy
Main Exhibition, Domestic Tranquility
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated in 1986, as a way to honor Dr. King’s work for social justice and civil rights. However, Dr. King’s legacy goes much deeper than that, as his motivation came from the basic notion of service—to one’s own community and one’s fellow human beings. Recognizing this, in 1994 President Bill Clinton signed into law an act which created the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service—setting aside Dr. King’s holiday as an opportunity to carry forward his message of service in the hopes of building a better country. Visitors can learn about Dr. King’s vision of himself as an agent of service, how that understanding led him to the use of nonviolence, and how other leaders from around the world have echoed Dr. King’s call to service in the name of community betterment. Explore the ways you can serve your community and continue the legacy of service that Dr. King held so dear.
African American History Traveling Trunks
The African American Museum in Philadelphia will present several of their Traveling Trunks throughout the day, so visitors can learn about the stories of African Americans throughout history. Plus, look for the African American Museum’s table in our Main Lobby.
Civil Rights Story Time
Throughout the day, families can gather ’round and listen to stories about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from books including Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington by Frances E. Ruffin, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler, and My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold.
Talk Back Board
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Grand Hall Lobby
Throughout the day, visitors can post their responses to questions related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., diversity, and citizenship on a special “talk back” board in the National Constitution Center’s Grand Hall Lobby.
Craft and Activity Tables
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grand Hall Lobby
Families will have the opportunity to create “I Have a Dream…” mobiles and refrigerator magnets featuring civil rights heroes.