Girls happily reading their books - at Orchard Place Des Moines

Recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day


MLK Day at Orchard Place

Monday, January 16 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Orchard Place honors the extraordinary life of Dr. King Jr. and his work to bring justice, equality, and power to the Black community. Orchard Place is committed to continuing his work in fighting against racial injustice, advocating for inclusion, and creating safe and affirming environments for the Black youth we serve. We reflect on the powerful impact and words of Dr. King Jr. and know there is still work to be done. Orchard Place's corporate office, Child Guidance Center and PACE Center will be closed in observance of the holiday. Campus youth will participate in MLK Day programming with Orchard Place staff and volunteers from BHE Renewables. 

Community Events where you can learn and serve include:  

Des Moines Parks & Recreation: Donate & Skate

Des Moines Parks and Recreation is hosting an MLK Jr. Day event at Brenton Skating Plaza – offering free entry if you bring non-perishable food items or new adult-sized socks. If you do not plan to attend that event, Orchard Place will accept donations in bins located at each branch until Friday, January 13. Learn More:

The Beloved Community’s MLK celebration

Current ESPN analyst Sam Acho will be part of central Iowa's 2023 celebrations acknowledging civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King.

The Beloved Community’s MLK Celebration plans to honor Dr. Martin Luther King with a day of service led by Dr. Brian Brown and Pastor Jon Anenson. ESPN sports analyst Sam Acho will be the featured keynote speaker for the event that also touts a musical performance by Bridges to Harmony and the Genesis Youth Foundation, among other area performers.

A food drive, collecting non-perishable goods, will also be part of the event. The service will be followed by a book signing and to-go meals provided to those in attendance.

Time: Jan. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ticket Information: Free
Location: Hope + Elim Church, 2500 University Ave., Des Moines Memorial Union’s MLK Day creative activities and Live on Instagram

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Iowa Department of Human Rights 34th annual MLK celebration

The Iowa Department of Human Rights hosts its annual celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan.16. The free event occurs at 10:45 a.m. and can be viewed on the Department of Human Rights Facebook page.

Time: 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 16

Ticket Information: Free


City of West Des Moines MLK Day community celebration

In collaboration with the West Des Moines Human Rights Commission, the City of West Des Moines will host a free event celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The afternoon begins at 3:30 p.m. with a multi-cultural reception hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Then Jay Byers, the CEO and president of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, will kick off the event at 4:30 p.m. with welcoming remarks.

This will be followed by a variety of other speakers, including West Des Moines mayor Russ Trimble, West Des Moines Community Schools’ executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion Dr. Dau Jok and West Des Moines director of diversity Audrey Kennis.

Appetizers and beverages will be served at the event. Residents are also encouraged to help package meals for area residents in recognition of the National Day of Service that same day. Volunteers will be active from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Meals from the Heartland, located at 357 Lincoln St. in West Des Moines.

For special accommodations or language assistance, email

Time: Roundtable discussions begin at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 16 and require registration at The program runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Ticket Information: This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Location: MidAmerican Energy Co. RecPlex, 6500 Grand Ave., West Des Moines

Forest Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance

Jacquie Easley McGhee — the division director for health equity, diversity and inclusion at MercyOne — will speak during Des Moines Public Library’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. McGhee’s speaking time will be preceded by an introduction from Des Moines Public Library director Susan A. Woody and followed by Q&A with McGhee.

All ages are invited to this event, which will include refreshments. Time: 4 p.m. on Jan. 16
Ticket Information: Free
Location: Forest Avenue Library, 1326 Forest Ave., Des Moines Ames/Story County community MLK Day celebration

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Martin Luther King Jr. scavenger hunt

Though Des Moines Public Libraries will generally be closed in observance of MLK Day, Central Library will be hosting a fun activity for kids the following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Children at the library only need to visit the Youth Section at Central Library and ask to participate in the scavenger hunt to be given instructions for this educational activity.

Time: All day Jan. 9 - 15
Ticket Information: Free
Location: Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave., Des Moines

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City of Ames, In-Person, Hybrid, and Virtual MLK Day Program

Join the City of Ames for a free, hybrid in-person and virtual MLK Day program expected to run for one hour. The evening’s program will include Anita Rollins, who is Ames' first Black councilwoman and who managed Iowa State University’s Science Bound program for more than two decades, as the keynote speaker. This year also marks the third annual essay writing contest that commemorates Dr. King’s work in pursuit of racial equity. Eleven students will be recognized for their essays.

In-person attendees are encouraged, but not required, to wear masks and social distance. A virtual stream of the program will be available on Facebook and YouTube.

Time: Jan. 16 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Ticket Information: This event is free to attend in person or virtually. Location: Ames City Auditorium, 520 Sixth St., Ames (north side of City Hall)

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Hands-On Activities for All Ages

The Memorial Union in Ames will be providing a day of free activities, including creating freedom quilt squares and MLK coloring pages in honor of MLK Day. The programming will take place in the Memorial Union's Workspace in the east basement of the building.

Free parking for the event can be found at the Memorial Union ramp adjacent to the building. Time: Jan. 16 from10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ticket Information: Free
Location: Workspace in ISU’s Memorial Union, 2229 Lincoln Way, Ames

Learn More: