Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Special Event at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation®

  • Saturday, January 13 - Monday, January 15, 2024
  • Time: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Admission and parking to Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is also free on the recognized holiday, January 15.

This celebration powerfully coincides with the final weekend of Mandela: The Official Exhibition. In recognition of Mandela’s values and commitment to making the world a better place, our thoughts turn to the American Civil Rights Movement and the inspiration to be drawn from individuals and communities. We invite you to join us to reflect on the words, the songs and the spirit of justice.

Featured Events and Programs:

Featured Exhibit | With Liberty and Justice for All
Explore the proud and often painful evolution of American freedom, from the Revolutionary War through the struggle for civil rights, in this groundbreaking exhibit.

Original Play | “The Beginnings of the Boycott”
Saturday, January 13 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 14 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Monday, January 15 at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for defying segregation on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. In response, the Women’s Political Council organized a one-day boycott on the day of her trial where 40,000 Black citizens — the majority of the city’s bus riders — refused to use the system in protest of Parks’ arrest. A one-day boycott sent a message but wasn’t enough to achieve the real change that civil rights leaders knew was possible.

This original play brings visitors inside the discussion with Parks, E.D. Nixon, Jo Ann Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they strategize an initiative with greater impact. What would be the cost to Black passengers if they extended the boycott for potentially months or years? Was that cost able to be endured for a future where Black passengers would be treated with respect?

Program hosted in the Museum Plaza.

Musical Performance | “The Movement That Sang” with the Rev. Robert Jones
Saturday, January 13 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sunday, January 14 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Musician and storyteller the Rev. Robert Jones Sr. will explore and demonstrate the role that traditional music has played in the battle for dignity and social change, from the time of slavery to the present.

Program hosted in the Museum Plaza.

Musical Performance | “The Queen of Gospel: Music of Mahalia Jackson”
Saturday, January 13 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Sunday, January 14 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Mahalia Jackson’s music fortified the Civil Rights Movement with songs of hope and purpose. In this live performance, singer Rosa Warner-Jones — nominated for best gospel artist at the Detroit Black Music Awards — performs a selection of Jackson’s most well-known pieces.

Program hosted in the Museum Plaza.

#MyMandela Leadership Connections Tour | Keeping Frenemies: How Differing Leaders Have Bridged the Gap to Work Together
Saturday, January 13, and Sunday, January 14, at 1 p.m.

The old saying goes, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," but what if we tried to learn from those who disagreed with us? Learn how great leaders through time have collaborated with "frenemies" to make great changes.

Tour begins at the Museum Cornerstone.

Experiment with History | “Take a Stand” Selfie Station
Saturday, January 13, and Sunday, January 14, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

What actions are you committed to take to create a more just world? Write it out, take a selfie and take a stand.

Hosted outside the exit of With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit.

Live Performance: Words of Freedom: Excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Monday, January 15 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Join us for four live performances by actor Tony Lucas as he recites some of Dr. King’s most famous speeches.

Program hosted in the Museum Plaza.

Musical Selections by X. Alexander Durden
Monday, January 15 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

X. Alexander Durden is a classical tenor, actor, lecturer and writer. He has appeared as a recitalist and in productions throughout the United States, Canada, Bermuda and the United Kingdom. Durden is currently manager of theatrical and musical experiences at The Henry Ford. The following pieces will be presented: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (Negro National Anthem) by James and J. Rosamond Johnson, “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime and “I Got to Lie Down” (spiritual) by Hall Johnson.

Program hosted in the Museum Plaza.

THF Connect App Tour | “Stories of Black Empowerment”

Download the THF Connect App to take the self-guided Stories of Black Empowerment tour through the museum.

Featured Films at Giant Screen Experience

The Color of Friendship (2000)
Saturday, January 13, at 2 p.m.

This film is based on actual events involving the friendship between two girls, Mahree and Piper, one from the United States and the other from apartheid South Africa, who learn about tolerance and friendship.

Tickets are available for an additional fee.

Long Night's Journey into Day: South Africa's Search for Truth & Reconciliation (2000)
Monday, January 15 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Nominated for an Academy Award in the best documentary feature category, this film tells four accounts of apartheid in South Africa as seen through the eyes of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. With blood spilled on both sides, can there be forgiveness when the full truth comes out? The film contains graphic imagery of violence; viewer discretion is advised.

Admission for both screenings is free in connection with our day of free museum admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Become a Member and Save.

Museum admission is free every day for members of The Henry Ford. Not a member? Become one for free admission to Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village all year. Plus, enjoy exclusive perks like free parking and discounts on shopping, dining and special events.