Charleston YWCA's 10 days honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. start Tuesday, on what would be King's 90th birthday

Annual MLK events are one of the city's oldest celebrations


2018 MLK Celebration photo from the MLK, Jr Parade - YWCA GREATER CHARLESTON
  • YWCA Greater Charleston
  • 2018 MLK Celebration photo from the MLK, Jr Parade
Tuesday marks the beginning of Charleston's 47th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the city's largest and longest-running event.

The 10-day celebration will begin at 2 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall (80 Broad St.) with Mayor John Tecklenburg, YWCA Greater Charleston Area executive director LaVonda Brown, visitors bureau CEO Helen Hill, and Radiant Church lead pastor Philip Pinckney.

On Tues., Tecklenburg is expected to announce a record-breaking list of corporate sponsorships for the annual celebration, which predates Spoleto Festival USA and was one of the first events honoring King's legacy in the nation.

The theme for the 2019 tribute will be "Embrace the Dream, Create the Change," encouraging participants to hold onto and take action to realize King's dream.

Headlining the celebration will be Cynthia Bramlett Thompson, a vice president of the Spoleto Festival USA board of directors and former board chair of Girl Scouts USA, and Bishop Samuel L. Green Sr., presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

2019 event highlights include:

The kickoff will be on the 90th birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on Tues. January 15, 1929. - NOBEL FOUNDATION ARCHIVE
  • Nobel Foundation Archive
  • The kickoff will be on the 90th birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on Tues. January 15, 1929.
Thurs. Jan. 17 and Fri. Jan. 18 will host Racial Equity Institute workshops from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at College of Charleston's North Charleston Campus (3800 Paramount Dr.) and are designed to help leaders address and understand racism in their communities. Check the YWCA website for info on how to participate.

Sat. Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. will be MLK Youth Poetry Slam, hosted by Marcus Amaker, Charleston's first poet laureate, and hip-hop artist and activist Benny Starr. The Poetry Slam will be held at the Charleston County Public Library main branch (95 Calhoun St.) The event is free and open to the public, but performers must contact Marcus ( to register.

On Sun. Jan. 20, Green will deliver a keynote address at Morris Street Baptist Church (25 Morris St.) at 2 p.m. He will address the priority of meeting needs in the community, such as housing, youth education, and more. The service is free and open to the public.

Mon. Jan. 21, will be the annual MLK Day Parade, beginning at 10:30 a.m. to the public. Participants must arrive at 8 a.m. The route will begin at Burke High School (244 President St.) along Fishburne St., head toward King Street, and finish on Calhoun near Marion Square. Route details can be found online.

Tues. Jan. 22 will be the the MLK Business and Professional Breakfast at the Gaillard Center at 7:30 a.m., where Cynthia Bramlett Thompson will feature as a keynote speaker. The breakfast is sold out, but check the YWCA website for more info.

You can find out more info on the 10-day festival and the YWCA's advocacy work at

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