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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 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. 

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); and Tracey Winbush (Youngstown).

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

To contact the MLK Commission, e-mail

MLK Commission Meetings

Public Meeting Notice:

Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission 
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
1 to 3 p.m.
Ohio Department of Administrative Services - Equal Opportunity Division
4200 Surface Road, Sequoia Conference Room
Columbus, Ohio 43228



MLK Commission Meetings


Annual Awards and Commemorative Celebration

35th Annual MLK Awards - Watch online!

Each January the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission holds a ceremony in Columbus commemorating Dr. King and his legacy. This year’s celebration was at noon on Thursday January 16 at Trinity Episcopal Church (corners of Broad and Third).


This free event is open to the public and is a way for the State of Ohio to recognize Dr. King’s legacy and celebrate the service and achievements of Ohio residents and organizations who continue to work to keep that legacy alive. Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • Governor’s Humanitarian Award
  • Community Building Award
  • Cultural Awareness Award
  • Economic Opportunity Award
  • Educational Excellence Award
  • Health Equity and Awareness Award
  • Social Justice Award

A second highlight of the event is the recognition of the elementary, middle school, and high school students who were first-place winners of the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Oratorical Contest held in the prior spring. Each student recited their winning essay.


Click the banner below to learn more.


Annual King Calendar

2020 Dr. King Calendars

The 2020 MLK Calendar is free and is 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 -- Postponed

In line with Governor Mike DeWine’s orders regarding public health and safety, we have postponed the upcoming 21st Annual Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest originally scheduled for April 3. We appreciate that students, as well as family members and coaches, have worked hard to reach the state level of competition and encourage you to continue practicing as we hope to reschedule as soon as advisable. We will continue to monitor the situation, and provide you with additional information regarding the contest as we have it.

Please continue to check the Ohio Department of Health website ( and follow their social media pages for updated COVID-19 information.

Until then, we hope you and your families continue to be well.

For 2020, the MLK Commission selected the theme “Where Would We Be? Where Will We Be?,” prompting students to reflect on where we, as a society, would be without Dr. King; as well as how they are part of the solution moving forward. 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

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: