Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration & Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration & Service

In honor of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the city hosts an annual day of celebration and service in the outside courtyard at Surprise City Hall, located at 16000 N Civic Center Plaza. There are also various sponsor booths and health and wellness resources available for the community.

Tentative 2021 date: Saturday, January 16

For more information, contact:

Lord Garcillano

Event Photos

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2020 Day of Celebration and Service Highlights

Program Featuring

kenja hassan-2019 MLK keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker - Kenja Hassan

As a Director of Cultural Relations in Arizona State University’s Office of Government and Community Engagement, Kenja Hassan works to develop a meaningful presence for ASU in diverse communities. Hassan launched the State of Black Arizona in 2008. Hassan holds a B.A. in Religion from Princeton University and a M.A. in Religious Studies from ASU, both emphasizing American Indian religious ties to land. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation to better understand and address health disparities, particularly how HIV impacts African Americans

Event Timeline

8:30 a.m. Light Breakfast - Limited to first 500 attendees
9:00 a.m. Program & Musial Performances
Service Project kick-off follows

MLK Event Parking Map

How to get involved

  • Sponsorships – If your business or organization would like to help sponsor the event, there are several opportunities. View sponsorship levels here. For more information, please contact Seth Dyson at
  • Individuals/Families – Join us for the breakfast, the program and the day of service; or come at 9:45 a.m. for the service project assignments. Projects may include food sorting, painting, landscaping, trash collection, etc. and will last 1-4 hours. Advanced registration is not required. Assignments will be given out at the event.
  • Groups – If you plan on bringing your group/club/congregation and would like to participate in the service projects, please RSVP your group name and estimated number of people to Seth Dyson at
  • Service Project Ideas – If you would like to suggest service projects to complete, please contact Seth Dyson at

For general questions or additional information, please contact Seth Dyson at .

Flyer Lecture MLK-2020

Special Event: Lecture & Songs

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Performing Arts Center, Valley Vista High School, Lecture Hall
15550 N. Parkview Pl., Surprise
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.


  • Emcee Welcome - Paul Outlaw, Surprise MLK Advisory Committee Member
  • Phoenix Women’s Chorus: Harriet Tubman
  • Lecture: Coded Messages and Songs of the Underground Railroad - Dr. Tamika Sanders
  • Gideon Mission Baptist Church Choir: Wade in the Water
  • Valley Vista High School Choir: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

About the Speaker

Tamika SandersDr. Tamika Sanders is an entrepreneur who decided to become an educator to help address the lack of minority faculty in higher education, and serve as a role model for minority students who rarely see people of color in academia. Through her company Savvy Pen, Dr. Sanders prides herself on working with schools to build inclusive classrooms, conducting multicultural training for educators, and creating interactive programs that incorporate arts learning to bridge cultural and socioeconomic divides. She hopes to continue using the arts to break barriers, unite people, and create social change.

Contact Info

Coded Messages and Songs of the Underground Railroad

Communication and secrecy were key to the successful operation of the Underground Railroad. Safety was more important than quickness. Both fugitive slaves and members of the Underground Railroad learned to code and decode hidden messages, and to disguise signs to avoid capture. There were code names for routes and code numbers for towns. A quilt hanging on a clothesline with a house and a smoking chimney among its designs indicated a safe house. The song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd” served as directions to Canada. Using storytelling, activities and songs, this presentation will depict the ingenuity and resiliency used by those involved in the Underground Railroad to help over 100,000 slaves escape to freedom between 1810 and 1850.

Presentation Category – Culture, Gender, and Identity Studies – African American Studies

MLK sponsor banner

Bronze Sponsors

  • Chance Shelter
  • West Valley Symphony
  • Steward Medical Group
  • Ottawa University

Friend of the Event

  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Surprise