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Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission

The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission (Commission) was established in 1985 by Executive Order. Today, the DAS Administrative Support Division provides support to the commission.

The Commission is a statewide advocate of Dr. King's principles of nonviolence and annually honors Ohio's citizens who work to promote diversity and eliminate discrimination through nonviolent methods. Each year, the Commission presents awards to Ohioans to celebrate the life of Dr. King, whose teachings encourage nonviolent actions to secure equal rights for all Americans. The commemorative celebration is held each January in downtown Columbus. 

The Commission strives to carry out Dr. King's dream of service to others throughout the entire year through various events. To learn more about the Commission as well as how you can become involved, please click below. 

MLK Commission Members

MLK Commission members include:

McKinley Brown, chair (Cincinnati); Rev. Joel L. King, Jr., vice chair (Gahanna); Napoleon A. Bell II (Columbus); Paul M. Booth (Cincinnati); Kacy R. Bullard (Columbus); Senator Hearcel Craig (Columbus); David Jehnsen (Galena); Jeffrey L. Johnson (New Albany); Will Lucas (Toledo); Elizabeth Blount McCormick (Columbus); Christina Rodriguez (Toledo); and Tracey Winbush (Youngstown).

Now you can follow the MLK Commission on Facebook! Like us at: www.facebook.com/ohiomlkcommission

To contact the MLK Commission, e-mail

MLK Commission Meetings

Annual Awards and Commemorative Celebration

37th Annual MLK Awards: 
Available online!

The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission invites you to join them in commemorating Dr. King and his legacy. The 37th annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration recognized three exceptional Ohio individuals and three organizations for their efforts to advance nonviolent social change. The ceremony was livestreamed at noon on Thursday January 13, 2022 is available on the Ohio Channel.


Hosted each January, the theme of this year's event centers on the Beloved Community, a phrase used often by Dr. King, and award winners were selected based on their work to build unity and find common ground in their communities. Awards were presented in the following categories.


  • Governor’s Humanitarian Award

  • Individual Award

  • Organization Award

  • Collaborative Effort Award

  • Youth: Capturing the Vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Click the image below to learn more about the award winners!


Annual King Calendar

2022 Dr. King Calendars

The 2022 MLK Calendar is coming soon to a distribution center near you! Please click here for additional info.  

Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest

Statewide Oratorical Contest

For 2021, the MLK Commission selected the theme “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Building Bridges of Justice, Equality, and Unity,” prompting students to reflect on how we, as a society, can work to build towards justice, equality, and unity. Click here to learn more about the competition for students in grades K-12 and for contact information of a regional coordinator near you. 

MLK Commission Community Calendar of Events

MLK Community Calendar

This Community Calendar is to highlight events across Ohio that commemorate Dr. King. If your community has a diversity event or an event celebrating Dr. King that you would like included, please send an email to the MLK Commission at mlk@das.ohio.gov.

50-Year Legacy: An MLK Memorial Event

The year 2018 marked an unfortunate landmark in American history. To memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his tragic death, the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission hosted “50-Year Legacy: an MLK Memorial Event” at noon, Wednesday, April 4 in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium, downtown Columbus. Speakers included the Rev. Joel L. King, Jr., a first cousin to Dr. King who is a Gahanna resident, and David Jehnsen, who lead a Chicago delegation to the 1963 March on Washington. Jehnsen, a Galena resident, is chair and founding trustee of the Institute for Human Rights and Responsibilities. The Columbus State Community College Gospel Vocal Ensemble also performed at this free event.

Click here to view photos from the event.

50th Anniversary: Civil Rights Act of 1964

The year 2014 marked a landmark in American history, particularly for the Civil Rights Movement. View Governor Kasich and Lt. Governor Taylor's resolution commemorating 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act.




50th Anniversary Celebration: "Let Freedom Ring"

The year 2013 marked a landmark in American history.  On Aug. 28, 1963, the March on Washington culminated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission (Ohio MLK Commission) and Governor John R. Kasich, together with the King Center in Atlanta and the 50th Anniversary Coalition, encouraged individuals and organizations throughout Ohio to pause to remember, reflect and act upon the dream that Dr. King shared with the world 50 years ago.  Organizations were invited to join in "Let Freedom Ring" bell-ringing events at 3 p.m. on Aug. 28, a half-century to the minute after Dr. King delivered his historic address.  Please see the links below for more information.

The Ohio MLK Commission hosted a bell-ringing commemorative ceremony at the West Plaza of the Statehouse in downtown Columbus on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m.  Please see below for additional information.


Ohio MLK Commission "Let Freedom Ring" photos:






For more photos from the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Bell Ringing, please visit the MLK Commission on Facebook! Like us at: www.facebook.com/ohiomlkcommission.