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 Equal Opportunity Division provides administrative 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. 



Annual Awards and Commemorative Celebration

Watch online!

34th Annual MLK Awards

Awards were presented to Ohio individuals and organizations who carry on the legacy Dr. King's dream and advance his philosophy of nonviolent social change at the 34th Annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration on Jan. 17, 2019 at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus.

Did you miss attending the celebration? Or perhaps you want to share it with your friends and family – or rewatch to see your favorite moments again. Thanks to our partners at The Ohio Channel, we have you covered! The celebration is now available for you to watch online.


As we head into the holiday weekend, we are reminded why the commission selected the theme “It’s Our Turn: A Movement Toward Justice” in hopes that people – particularly children, teens and young adults – will be moved to show faith in action through volunteer work and other positive activism. As evidenced in the presentations, several young people are doing just that!


Thank you for joining us, either in person or virtually, in this tribute to Dr. King and to some of the Ohioans carrying on his legacy.


Click the banner above to watch online or learn more about the awards.

Annual King Calendar

2019 Dr. King Calendars -
Available now!

The 2019 MLK Calendar is free and will be available to the public on a "first come, first serve" basis. Click here for a list of regional distribution centers. 

Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest

Statewide Oratorical Contest

For 2019, the MLK Commission selected the theme "It's Our Turn: A Movement toward Justice." 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 commemorative 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 Commission Meetings

MLK Commission Members

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:

MLK Commission

Commission members include: Will Lucas, chair (Toledo); Rev. Joel L. King, Jr., vice chair (Gahanna); Napoleon A. Bell II (Columbus); Paul M. Booth (Cincinnati); McKinley Brown (Cincinnati); Kacy R. Bullard (Columbus); David Jehnsen (Galena); Jeffrey L. Johnson (New Albany); Elizabeth Blount McCormick (Columbus); Tracey Winbush (Youngstown); and Eddie Sipplen (Akron).

Now you can follow the MLK Commission on Facebook! Like us at:

To contact the MLK Commission, e-mail