Free events around Indianapolis to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2024

Domenica Bongiovanni
Indianapolis Star
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Reflection on and commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy will be at the center of events throughout Central Indiana starting this week. Through performances, speeches, activities and discussions, organizations aim to amplify his message and assess the work still needed for the fight against injustice.

Admission to the following events and museums are free, but registration is required in many cases. Some ask for donations as well, so visitors should check what's needed before heading out.

42nd Annual MLK Day of Celebration

Noon Jan. 15. Madam Walker Legacy Center, 617 Indiana Ave. madamwalkerlegacycenter.comFree.

Roland Martin, host and managing editor of the #RolandMartinUnfiltered Daily Digital Show and founder of the Black Star Network, will be the distinguished speaker at the Madam Walker center. Martin has contributed to CNN and been selected as a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists and as a member of the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.

The Children's Museum

Free admission Jan. 15. 3000 N. Meridian St.

Traditional West African and Diaspora drumming from the Griot Drum Ensemble and a discussion of King by storyteller Portia Jackson are planned for the day along with other activities, like learning about printmaking.

Indiana Historical Society

Free admission Jan. 15. 450 W. Ohio

Special programs include storytelling, music by Keisha Ballinger and the University United Methodist Church Praise Team and adding your commitment to "be the change" to a mural. The museum is also accepting donations of new kids' socks and underwear for Charity Cares Clothing Closet.

White River State Park

The attractions in the park — the Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, IMAX Theater, Eiteljorg Museum and NCAA Hall of Champions — are each offering free activities and partnering with Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. Visitors can make donations via Dip Jars around the park and online at

Free parking will be available Jan. 15 on a first-come, first-served basis in the underground garage off Washington Street and the surface lot next to the Park's Visitor's Center.

Here are more details:

Indiana State Museum

Free admission Jan. 15. 650 W. Washington St.

Performances, activities that include creating a mural, curator talks and videos of King's speeches are on deck for the day.

Eiteljorg Museum

Free admission Jan. 15. 500 W. Washington St.

Over the course of the day, visitors can watch a screening of "King in Chicago" about his fight against northern racism and poverty as part of the Chicago Freedom Movement, a community drum circle and more.

A look at the Madam C. J. Walker Theatre on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in Indianapolis. Recent renovations on the historic building included replacing mechanical systems, replacing the sign on the roof, masonry, lighting inside the theatre, additional conference and seminar rooms, updated wifi and more.

IMAX Theater

Free showings Jan. 15 for visitors who pick up tickets on-site at the ticket desk. 650 W. Washington St. inside the Indiana State Museum. Tickets are not available in advance online for the date.

The theater will play "Deep Sky" — a documentary about NASA's Webb Telescope images of cosmic landscapes, exoplanets and more — several times throughout the day.

Indianapolis Zoo

Free admission Jan. 15. 1200 W. Washington

The arctic fox, sea lions, tigers brown bears and other winter-ready animals will be outdoors, while indoor exhibits like the dolphin and deserts domes will be open.  

NCAA Hall of Champions

Free admission Jan. 15. 700 W. Washington St.

Sports simulator competitions, a 1930s retro gym and an exhibit about mascots are among the activities.


Free admission Jan. 14. 4000 Michigan Road.

Newfields is closed Mondays, and on Sunday evening, the museum will hold a free multi-denominational service that includes a community prayer.

Carmel's MLK Day Commemoration

6:30 p.m. Jan. 11. Tarkington Theater at the Center for The Performing Arts, 3 Carter Green in Carmel. Free.

Singing, dance and speeches will be part of a celebration honoring the Civil Rights icon.

Looking for things to do? Our newsletter has the best concerts, art, shows and more — and the stories behind them

Contact IndyStar reporter Domenica Bongiovanni at 317-444-7339 or Follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @domenicareports.

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