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"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter From Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.



Aaron Grizzell
NorcalMLK Foundation Executive Director

MLK Marchers on the Lefty O'Doul Bridge. Photo courtesy of KQED.

Welcome to MLK2019. The Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation (NorcalMLK) is excited to host San Francisco's free, annual Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday observance. Below you will find the many events and activities that make up the celebration. And, you will also find ways to volunteer and support NorcalMLK.

The theme for MLK2019 is We Are In This Together.

On April 16, 1963, a 34-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. sat in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, following an April 12th arrest that came as part of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference's and the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth's Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights' non-violent, protest campaign to end the long era of racism there. On the same day he was arrested, eight Birmingham clergymen, representing the country's major religious faiths, accused King and the participants of extremism and anarchy, calling his campaign "unwise and untimely."1 Concerned by this stance, King penned a letter in response, where, after a brief introductory review, he stated what to many seemed obvious:

"I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."2
Today we face another moment that calls for us to state the obvious: that we are all tied together; that what affects you affects me; and that how one treats another reflects on us all. Over the past year, we have experienced widening disparities and a continued assault on our fundamental democratic institutions from within and from without. And, deepening social and economic injustice and exclusion have strained the very fibers of our nation. This is why justice is such a vital principle for achieving a beloved community. For, true justice connotes a determined care and concern for the welfare of others, and it demands a searching honesty with our past and our present, so that we can achieve a more just future.

So, as we embark on 2019, let us all confront injustice and exclusion with a rigid determination that marks true justice and a beloved community. Because, we are in this together.

1. Clayborne Carson ed., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York City: Grand Central Publishing, 1998), 188. To learn more about the 1963 Birmingham Campaign, see Carson, Autobiography, 170-217.

2. Carson, Autobiography, 189.

MLK Family
Family taking a break during the MLK celebration events. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.


January 19-21 || Multiple Locations
Johnson-Hopkins-Boesak Image
Joshua Johnson (left), host of NPR's 1A, with Dr. Dwight N. Hopkins (middle), the Alexander Campbell Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago and King & Faith Lectures co-founder, and anti-Apartheid activist the Rev. Allan Aubrey Boesak (right).

The 2019 King & Faith Lectures is an annual lecture series that presents contemporary contemplation of Dr. King, his message, and his legacy. The public programs are scheduled to begin on January 19 and are free and open to the public. Programs feature the annual Howard Thurman Homily, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Address, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Evensong, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Reflection. A special presentation in conjunction with the Smithsonian Museum highlights this year's events. See the lectures schedule below, and check King and Faith Lectures landing page for the latest information.


January 19-21 || Multiple Locations

The Black & Brown Comix Arts Festival (BCAF) celebrates the creativity of people of color in the comic arts and popular visual culture and is dedicated to the notion that all audiences deserve to be subject in the culture in which we participate. Our three-day event includes a grand expo, kids activities, film screenings, panels and conversations, cosplay events and much more.
A partnership with the San Francisco Public Library, BCAF is a festival of the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation and is part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations in San Francisco. In 2015 USA Today's editors and readers selected BCAF as one of the ten best art festivals in the U.S. So, join us at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens, and experience the Black & Brown Comix Arts Festival!

BCAF will open on January 19 at the San Francisco Public Library.

Interested in an exhibit space? Click the 'Exhibitor' button on the BCAF2019 page.

Interested in sponsorships? See the BCAF2019 Sponsor Brochure

Follow @norcalmlk and @bcafcon on Twitter and Facebook.


January 21, 8:00am-10:00am || Marriott Marquis
(this is a paid, ticketed event)
Aaron Grizzell (left), the NorcalMLK Foundation executive director, with the Hon. Nancy Pelosi (middle), Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and Christine Pelosi (right), member of the Democratic National Committee. Photo courtesy of the NorcalMLK Foundation.

Join San Francisco's labor, civic, business and community leaders at the MLK2019 Labor & Community Breakfast on Monday, January 21 from 8:00am - 10:00am at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Francisco. The breakfast honors the legacy of labor and community working together in the struggle for civil rights, and it honors local labor, civic and community members' collaboration in the creation of San Francisco's Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens. The memorial is the nation's 3rd largest monument in honor of Dr. King and the west coast's largest fountain. The breakfast is hosted in close partnership with the San Francisco Labor Council and is a ticketed event.
Purchase your tickets today, and subscribe to us below and follow us on Twitter @norcalmlk for more information and updates.

Support the MLK Celebrations


January 21 || Multiple Transit Services
MLK Celebration attendees arriving at San Francisco's Caltrain Station. Photo courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle.

Each year the Foundation partners with local and regional transportation agencies to provide commemorative transportation to and from the celebration events.
Bay Area Rapid Transit annually commemorates Dr. King by partnering with the NorcalMLK Foundation in developing commemorative MLK BART Passes, which provides complementary, round-trip travel to the MLK Celebrations.
If you live in or near San Francisco, register for MLK2019 Muni Commemorative Passes. San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency commemorates Dr. King by providing annual passes through NorcalMLK and via complementary shuttle service during the annual march/parade.
If you live on the peninsula, consider catching the Caltrain NorcalMLK Celebration Train. NorcalMLK and Caltrain are dedicated to continuing the legacy begun by the late Coretta Scott King by providing special, free commemorative MLK train service for south Bay and peninsula celebrants.
Live in Marin? Take the MLK2019 Freedom Ferry. Since 2004 the Golden Gate Transportation Authority has partnered with the NorcalMLK Foundation to provide complimentary service to the MLK Celebration events.
For each of these services, hurry and register as the number of complimentary passes is limited.


January 21, 11:00am || S.F. Caltrain Station
MLK Celebration participants on the MLK March. Photo Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Join thousands in honoring the Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama marches and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by experiencing the MLK2019 commemorative march/parade from San Francisco's Caltrain Station to Yerba Buena Gardens. The march begins at 11:00am on Monday, January 21, and participants are encouraged to arrive early. The 1.5 mile journey crosses the Lefty O'Doul Bridge and stops at Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park to commemorate the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, a symbol of violence and victory in the civil rights movement.
Groups can register and march together at the MLK2019 March page.
At the conclusion of the march, in partnership with the San Francisco Interfaith Council, an interfaith commemoration will bring together the region’s faith leaders to commemorate the vision of Dr. King and to lead participants in a spiritual reflection of his message.

MLK2019 March Route

MLK March Route


January 21, 1:30pm - 2:30pm || Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Brian Watt (left), KQED Morning News Anchor, in conversation with the Hon. London Breed (right), the mayor of San Francisco, during the 2018 MLK Feature Program. Photo courtesy of the NorcalMLK Foundation.

The marquee event of the celebration day brings our theme to life and features an exciting program of talent and personalities in honor of the life of Dr. King. Stay tuned for updates on special guests and performers.


January 21, 11:00am - 5:00pm || Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Belva Davis (left), awarding-winning media personality, hosting a conversation with James Redford (2nd from the left), and guests during the 2018 MLK Celebration Feature Program in partnership with the San Francisco Chapter of the Links, Inc. Photo courtesy of the NorcalMLK Foundation.

Featuring SFEnvironment, The San Francisco Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, the American Red Cross, San Francisco Aids Foundation BBE program, along with numerous special programs and services, the MLK2019 Health and Wellness Festival brings together the region’s health providers for a one-day event of free services and exciting activities during the MLK celebration. The goal is to promote health, wellness, sustainability, and preparedness as essential elements of fair, just, and vibrant communities.
If you are interested in a vendor space, download and complete our vendor application, and pay directly online, and the NorcalMLK team will contact you with your table location. Follow us @norcalmlk and here for updates.


January 21, 1:00pm - 4:00pm || Esplanade Stage, Yerba Buena Gardens
MLK2018 Music Festival guest band rocking Yerba Buena Gradens. The MLK Music Festival is a co-production of the NorcalMLK Foundation, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and Purple Cherry Productions. Photo courtesy of Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.

Enjoy an afternoon of live taping with the show I Remember That Song, with host, Gerry Dove, and the team of guests, featuring Russell Gatewood and DJ Flash of "The World Famous Rick & Russ Show" and radio personality Antoine Davis. Live music and the latest cuts will be featured on the lawn in Yerba Buena Gardens. Follow us on Twitter @norcalmlk for updates on special guests.


January 21, 10:30am - 5:00pm || Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Aaron Grizzell (left), NorcalMLK executive director, in conversation with Dr. Rachel E. Harding (right), author and associate professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions at the University of Colorado Denver, with the audience at the 2018 Liberation Film Screening of Yémanjá at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Photo courtesy of the NorcalMLK Foundation.

The Liberation Film Screenings (LFF) are dedicated to bringing short-format cinema and human interest documentaries to the public through innovative programs designed to engage new and diverse audiences.
2019 marks the ninth annual program and will feature human interest and civil rights documentaries and conversations. A partnership with California Newsreel, the screenings are free and open to the public with limited theater seating on a first-come first-served basis.
LFF scheduled screenings in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater and Screening Room, and the Freedom Theater at the Museum of the African Diaspora will be posted on the film screening landing page.
Check the LFF landing page for the screening titles and schedule, and subscribe below, or @norcalmlk on Twitter, for the latest information.


January 19-21
Photo courtesy of the NorcalMLK Foundation.

There are nearly 300 volunteer opportunities at MLK2019! Community groups, companies and friends can all serve. See our volunteer opportunities. You may also contact us to find out how your team can get involved.