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Martin Luther King Day Celebrations In New York City

(credit: Harlem Gospel Choir)

Jan. 19 will mark the 86th anniversary of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The United States has celebrated the life of the iconic activist since President Reagan wrote the holiday into law in 1983. Now, more than ever, is a great time to recognize the achievements in race relations that this country has accomplished while fighting for a better and brighter future for all citizens in this generation. Here are the top five ways to celebrate the life of Dr. King in the New York City area.

Harlem Gospel Choir
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
237 W. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10036
(212) 997-4144

Date: Jan. 19, 2015 at 1 p.m.

For one day only, see the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir at Time Squares' B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Be prepared to foot stomp, handclap and dance during the renowned performance of the preeminent gospel choir. The Choir was founded in 1986 by Allen Bailey, who got the idea for the choir while attending a celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Cotton Club in Harlem. The choir consists of the finest singers and musicians from Harlem's black churches and the New York/Tri-State area. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to children's charities throughout the country. B.B. King will offer a full dinner menu during the performance. Tickets are reasonably priced at $22 in advance and $26 at the door.

'Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent'
The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10023
(646) 505-4444

Date: Jan. 19, 2015 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Watch "Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent," an inspiration documentary about a rabbi who became a leader of the Civil Rights movement. "Expelled from Germany, Rabbi Joachim Prinz arrived in the United States in 1937. Here, he witnessed racism against African Americans and realized the American ideal was not a reality. As rabbi of Temple B'nai Abraham in Newark, NJ and later as President of the American Jewish Congress, Prinz became a leader of the civil rights movement and worked to organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." After watching the documentary, viewers will participate in conversations with the filmmaker and the family of Prinz.

Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Ave.
New York, NY 11217
(718) 636-4100

Date: Jan 19, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

Come honor the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. at BAM's annual event where artists, activists, civic leaders and community members will come together to honor his legacy. One of the largest events in New York City, the celebration has been a BAM tradition since 1990. In collaboration with the event, BAMcafé Live will feature music programming inspired by Dr. King's vision. For the 2015 celebration, the keynote speaker will be Dr. Cornell West and performer Sandra St. Victor & Oya's Daughter.

Related: Civil Rights 50 Years Later: Law Was A Victory For Women, Too

Thank You, Dr. King
The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave.
New York, NY 10023
(646) 505-4444

Jan. 19, 2015 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Co-founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem Arthur Mitchell will narrate his life story followed by a breathtaking choreographed performance by Dance Theatre of Harlem performers. After learning about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, world renowned choreographer and dancer Arthur Mitchell was inspired to create the Dance Theater of Harlem—a racially diverse ballet company, and a school that offers children in Harlem the opportunity to learn about dance. Don't miss this amazing opportunity to learn more about the theatre while witnessing an extraordinary performance.

'Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein'
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park W.
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

Date: Jan. 16 - April 19, 2015

New York Historical Society will be hosting a stunning historical photo exhibit of the 1965 Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama taken by photographer Stephen Somerstein. The exhibit kicks off Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday weekend and runs until April 19, 2015. Somerstein was a student in City College of New York and a Picture Editor for his student newspaper when he traveled to Alabama to document the march. Stephen gained unrestricted access during the march and was able to photograph Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin and more. The powerful exhibit is a most see whether to celebrate the life of Dr King or for a lesson in American history.

Related: Civil Rights 50 Years Later: Remembering March On Montgomery

Ayanna Barton is a freelance writer covering all things New York. Her work can be found on

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