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A colorized black and white image of Coretta Scott King and Dr. King among other supporters of the civil rights movement.

Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission

The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission is a statewide advocate of Dr. King's principles of nonviolence. The Commission strives to carry out Dr. King's dream of service to others throughout the entire year through various events.

The Commission was established in 1985 by executive order. Today, the DAS Administrative Support Division provides support to the Commission.

See below to learn more about the Commission, as well as how you can become involved.

Annual Awards and Commemorative Celebration

The Commission presents awards annually in categories for Ohioans' efforts to keep Dr. King's dream alive and advance his philosophy of nonviolent social change. Awards are presented as part of the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration each January in downtown Columbus. The annual awards program recognizes the service and achievements of Ohio residents and organizations in areas consistent with the teachings and example of Dr. King. His commitment to seeking racial, social, and economic justice through non-violent struggle benefited not only the victims of oppression, but society as a whole. Annual awards lift both concrete achievements and the continuing spirit of King's dreams for this nation and Ohio.

Nominations for five award categories are accepted year-round with the deadline for nominations applied to the following January's event. Any nominations received after Oct. 30 will be considered for the following year's event. Nominations can be submitted electronically by downloading and completing the nomination form. Completed forms can be emailed to the Commission at mlk@das.ohio.gov.

Watch the 2023 Annual MLK Commemorative Celebration on The Ohio Channel. During the celebration, three individuals and five organizations were recognized for their efforts to advance nonviolent social change. Student speakers from the 2022 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest also were featured.

2023 Governor's Humanitarian Award

2023 Individual Award

2023 Organization Award

2023 Collaborative Award

2023 Youth: Capturing the Vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Calendars

The Commission produces a calendar each year that promotes Dr. King's principles of nonviolence and his vision of multicultural harmony. The Commission is again making this free calendar and education tool available at distribution centers across the state. Inside are historic references and a chronology of Dr. King's life and the Civil Rights Movement. This year, we are excited about our new format as well as a great partnership with our friends and colleagues of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. We hope you enjoy the new look! Contact your local distribution center in advance to ensure availability and staffing so you can pick up a calendar for your home or your organization (please see distribution locations below).

King Community Calendar

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

    • Events are subject to change. Please contact event organizers to verify details. 

MLK-Inspired Wallpapers

Let Dr. King inspire you year-round! The MLK Commission is pleased to provide this collection of MLK-inspired images that you can download as wallpapers for your computer or mobile device.

Several wallpapers feature Dr. King and the theme of the Commission’s 2023 annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration. Others showcase the works of youth winners of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing & Multimedia Contest that are featured in the Commission’s 2023 MLK Calendar.

Simply download the zip file and select the options you would like to feature as a wallpaper on your computer or mobile device.

Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest

The Commission is committed to educating children about Dr. King's legacy of brotherhood among all people and since 2000, has hosted the Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest. The theme for the 2023 statewide oratorical contest, to be held  April 21, 2023, is "Bridging the Divide: Daring to Dream Again" prompting students to reflect on how we, as a society, can envision a better tomorrow, opening our minds to bridging our differences and uniting in hope. 

The contest has a total of four divisions: primary (grades kindergarten-2); intermediate (grades 3-5); junior (grades 6-8); and senior (grades 9-12). Each year, regional contests send their first, second and third place presenters to take part in the state competition. To take part in the statewide contest, participants must first take part in regional contests. This year's regional contests included Akron (Summit County), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Marion-Morrow-Knox Tri-County, and Southeastern Ohio. However, those students who did not have a regional contest in their area were welcome to participate.

To participate in a regional contest for future competitions, please contact one of the coordinators below. 

NOTE: If there is a regional competition in your area, you must compete in the local competition. Only contestant registrations from areas without a regional competition will be accepted individually.

If you are interested in beginning a regional contest in your area, or for more information on the statewide oratorical contest, please contact the Commission at 614-466-2136 or  mlk@das.ohio.gov.

Downloadable Resources


McKinley Brown

Chair, Cincinnati

Rev. Joel L. King, Jr.

Vice Chair, Gahanna

Napoleon A. Bell II

Member, Columbus

Paul M. Booth

Member, Cincinnati

J. Averi Frost

Member, Columbus

David Jehnsen

Member, Galena

Jeffrey L. Johnson

Member, New Albany

Will Lucas

Member, Toledo

Tracey Winbush

Member, Youngstown