Pasadena MLK Community Coalition

Keeping the Legacy of Martin Luther King Alive!

Pasadena MLK Community Coalition - Keeping the Legacy of Martin Luther King Alive!


MLK Logo2Our Mission

The mission of the Martin Luther King Community Coalition (“King Coalition”) is simply to bring together dedicated, committed, and sincere people to serve as a constant reminder to keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy alive through education, community event planning, volunteerism, and philanthropy, in an effort to create social change and counteract ills of the community such as poverty, racism, and militarism.

In August 1985, a community meeting was convened at Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena, California bringing together peace-, understanding-, and freedom-loving people to address some of the spiritual, educational, economic, employment, health, and welfare problems facing the community.

Our Legacy

For nearly three decades, the King Coalition has paved the way for people living in the Pasadena, Altadena, and surrounding communities to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive through community and bridge building.

In 1975, before the King Coalition was officially organized, a core group of 10 individuals were intricately involved in the work leading to making Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday.

Over the past 26 years, the King Coalition has sponsored the Martin Luther King Essay Contest encouraging students in the Pasadena Unified School District and local private schools to write essays addressing different aspects of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

Beginning 10 years ago, the coalition introduced an art contest to include the growing pool of talented student visual artists. Notably, the combined entries from both the essay and art contests have numbered well into the thousands:

  • 20,000 students have entered the essay contest
  • 2,585 young artists have submitted entries for the art contest

Thousands of dollars have been awarded to students from elementary, middle school, and high schools during this period of time.

Our Annual Events

Martin Luther King Essay & Art Contest Public Reading and Showing

In December, winners in the art contest are announced and finalists in the essay category read their submissions.  While the audience makes their own predictions, the judges have another opportunity to hear the essays read by the contestants.  The following month, the placing of the essay finalists are revealed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration.

A Day On – Not Off:  The MLK Day of Service

After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.  The site is specifically dedicated to the MLK Day of Service.

The MLK Day of Service transforms Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps to address social problems. That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions.

In 2001, the Martin Luther King Community Coalition joined in the “Day On, Not a Day Off” national initiative spearheaded by the Atlanta Martin Luther King Center for Social Change.  On the Saturday before the national holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birthday, MLK Community Coalition members coordinate local volunteers to partner with the Pasadena Unified School District to sponsor a beautification project at designated campuses.  It is a wonderful event that brings out students and their families and community members, and creates long-lasting bonds.

Check out some of our activities on the web at

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration

On the third Monday of January, as the nation celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.ʼs birthday, the Martin Luther King Community Coalition does as well.  The Martin Luther King Community Coalition, Pasadena Unified School District, Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Congregations, National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa Inc., Gamma Lambda Chapter, Pasadena Tournament of Roses and Aspires West in conjunction with the City of Pasadena hosts an annual celebration at Jackie Robinson Park in Pasadena, California.

The King Coalition is a group of community people working to make Dr. Kingʼs dreams become a reality. Part of the celebration is the culmination of the essay contest. Awards are presented to the winners and all student contestants receive Martin Luther King, Jr. certificates for their participation.