For many years, Western Michigan University’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee organized a celebration of Dr. King’s life, work, and commitment to social justice. The Northside Ministerial Alliance had annually held a similar communitywide event at Chenery Auditorium.

In an impressive showing of town-gown partnership, the two organizations agreed to merge their events for a spectacular 2002 celebration. Since that time, the two have continued to work collaboratively to establish a celebration for Kalamazoo residents that highlights and captures the essence of the life and legacy of Dr. King.

During the ensuing years, several major events and numerous smaller ones have been built into what has become an annual celebration that launches in January each year. The community-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration continues to grow and evolve. Along with WMU, key sponsors also include the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and Bronson Healthcare System.


Each year, the MLK Celebration Planning Committee selects a theme based on the life and legacy of Dr. King that will be represented across the various celebration activities held within the community. This year’s theme is “The time is always right to do what is right.