Put Your Hand to the Plow: Virtual and Live MLK Day Events in NC

From days of service to drive-through rallies, poetry readings and live-streamed teach-ins, North Carolina's statewide King Day celebrations have something to offer everyone. The aim: to push beyond a day of remembrance and spark a long-term commitment to justice. (KatieKaboom from Pixabay/Canva)

By Max Millington

January 14, 2022

North Carolina is celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. both in-person and virtually, with days of service, online teach-ins, and drive-through parades. Plan your day with this list of 2022 events.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was approved as a holiday in 1983, and though not officially celebrated in all 50 states until the year 2000, municipalities, universities, churches, and community organizations across the country have since used the day to reflect on the life and legacy of the slain civil rights leader. 

North Carolina is no exception. Despite potential threats of bad weather and the ever-present risk of Omicron, organizations statewide are ensuring Dr. King’s holiday is not put on the back burner. 

Cardinal & Pine has your list of virtual and in-person MLK Day events throughout NC. We will update this list as needed, but continue to check event websites, social media pages and the local news in case of changes or cancellations. 

Eastern NC

Day Parade and Commemoration – Wilmington

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will always have a special connection to Wilmington. In fact, the reverend was scheduled to travel to the Port City for a speaking engagement on the day he was assassinated. The city honors Dr. King with a full week of events that features a parade on MLK Day. For more information about the details and location of the parade, go here.

Stop The Violence Program, Inc. Celebration – Fairmont

The Robeson County town of Fairmont will host a celebration at noon on Jan. 17, MLK Day. The event’s speaker will be Rev. Tyrone Watson, president of the Unified Robeson NAACP Branch. Details about the event’s location can be found here.

Western NC

Day of Service at Burton Street Community Peace Garden – Asheville

Calling all volunteers! In an effort to carry on Dr. King’s legacy of making communities more equitable, Hood Huggers International, Asheville Parks and Recreation, and several other local organizations are asking residents to participate in various sustainability projects at the Peace Gardens & Market. For more details on the event including the specific projects and how to register, go here.

Charlotte Area

Honoring the Legacy of a King! – Charlotte

Urban Reader Books hosts a special Poetry with Friends event to celebrate MLK Day. The first hour of the family-friendly event will amplify the voices of youth 6-16. Free, but limited seating so RSVP here.  

Share the Warmth: Community Day of Service and Virtual Event _– Salisbury

The City of Salisbury is hosting a day of service at Kelsey Scott Park followed by a virtual celebration for the iconic civil rights leader. Residents are invited to arrive at 11 a.m. and assist in cleaning the park or dropping off winter coats for local families in need. The town will host a virtual program later in the afternoon, featuring newly-elected NC NAACP President Deborah Dicks Maxwell. 

For the schedule and more information about MLK events throughout the weekend, go here.

Actualizing the Dream – Concord-Cabarrus County

On Jan. 15 at Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., come out to this community day that includes kickball, free food, youth oratorical presentations and more.

Jan. 17 at 11 a.m., a memorial march will leave from the library in downtown Concord and proceed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on Cabarrus Avenue for a wreath-laying ceremony. Please wear a mask and distance. For more information, click here.


Hope Dealers Outreach Drive-Thru Celebration – Winston-Salem

The non-profit Hope Dealers Outreach will host a community-wide drive-thru rally Jan. 17, lining up on East Third Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard in Winston-Salem. Attendees are encouraged to decorate their cars and show support by honking their horns. Check out the specifics here

2022 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service – Greensboro

On Jan. 23, from 1-3 p.m. the public is welcome to gather at the NC A&T Student Center for an afternoon of service projects, a volunteer fair, community art project, children’s area, performances and more. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the event are required, as well as masking at all times when indoors. For more information, go here.


Book Harvest’s Dream Big Book Drive & Community Celebration – Durham

Pull up to Durham Central Park on Jan. 17 from 1-4 p.m. for Book Harvet’s festival and book drive. Attendees can stay for the event or drive through to drop off or pick up books. Free snacks and Durham Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull will be there. For more information including how to volunteer, go here


Levine Museum Family Day Celebration

Enjoy an evening of singing, dancing, and spoken word with the Levine Museum of the New South’s MLK Day celebration. This event will be streamed on Facebook Live and YouTube and focus on voting rights and explore the history of inequality at the ballot and where we stand today. Go here for up-to-date information. 

Community Dreams at the Harvey B. Gantt Center 

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture in Charlotte is holding various programs on Jan. 17, including a film screening of the animated film Our Friend Martin, a theatrical performance of some of Dr. King’s most notable speeches, a panel discussion on racially-influenced violence, and much more. Due to the forecasted inclement weather conditions in the area, the program is scheduled to be fully virtual. Registration and a downloadable schedule of events can be found here.

41st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County will host their annual slate of events virtually this year from Saturday, Jan. 15.-Wednesday, Jan. 19. Events include the annual prayer breakfast, a peace march and rally, and a candlelight service that honors community leaders. Check out the dates of each event here and to be notified which each event goes live. Subscribe to the association’s YouTube channel here.

United Way’s MLK Call to Service Week

This week-long virtual event combines learning, service and inspiration. Starting Monday, January 17, participants receive a daily email highlighting an aspect of Dr. King’s work and opportunities for service or actions that further that aspect. On Saturday, January 22 from 9:30 to noon, participants can drop off kits that they created over the week at Children and Family Services Center, 601 E. Fifth Street. Register here.


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