01/13/2012 06:05 pm ET Updated Jan 15, 2012

MLK Day 2012 In Chicago: Where And How To Get Active In Leader's Honor

If you have a three day weekend ahead of you, remember there's a reason. Sunday marks what would have been Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 83rd birthday, and the federal holiday Monday is meant to be a "day of action," motivating Americans to do good works in his honor.

Chicago has a host of service opportunities available on Volunteer Match. If you find yourself with downtime between good deeds, there are also plenty of social, educational and entertainment events over the long weekend that allow for fun and celebration in the spirit of reflection. (Psst...rehoming a cute, orphaned critter counts as a good deed, too!)

Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz Gospel Messiah
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s cultural heritage with a tribute to jazz and gospel music featuring more than 200 musicians, an orchestra, a jazz combo and the city-wide Too Hot Choir. Now in its seventh year, the exuberant annual show brings fusion rhythms and tunes that make it hard to stay in your seat.
Where: Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14; 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15
Price: $30-72

Occupy The Dream Celebration and Public Meeting
Occupy Chicago is celebrating parallels between Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight and their current cause with a series of events, including a public meeting of grassroots leaders to reach out to Congressional representatives Jan Schakowsky, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Pete Visclosky.
Where: The People's Church, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.
When: 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15
Organizer: Occupy Chicago

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert
Music Institute of Chicago brings their annual concert of traditional contemporary gospel and jazz arrangements, performed by the Brother Chorale of the Apostolic Church of God. The Chicago-based choir, founded in 1969, began with 30 members and has grown to more than a hundred voices.
Where: Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
When: 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15
Price: Free

Chicago History Museum
Illinois residents especially are invited for a day-long celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Chicago History Museum. Family activities, music and crafts make it a kid-friendly affair.
Where: Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
When: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16
Price: Free for Illinois residents

School Closure Parent Rally
Join Lawndale community parents who see parallels between proposed CPS closures and the barriers Martin Luther King, Jr. fought against at a rally demanding their voices be heard. Parents and community members say there's a pattern of under-resourcing schools in low-income, minority communities that requires attention.
Where: Dvorak Technology Academy, 3615 W. 16th St.
When: 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16
Organizer: Action Now

What Does It Mean, Dr. King?
Children can learn about the Civil Rights Movement and what it means for their lives with an interactive performance at the Chicago Children's Museum. This musical theater performance takes a journey through time, telling Martin Luther King, Jr.'s story and explaining why it's relevant today.
Where: Chicago Children's Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave.
When: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16
Price: Free with museum admission

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast
Come together with members of DePaul's Center for Intercultural Programs at their annual prayer breakfast. This year's theme is "The Quest for Peace and Justice in the Post-Civil Rights Era," and activist, speaker and radio personality Warren Ballentine is the keynote speaker. The theatre school will also perform.
Where: DePaul University, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave.
When: 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16
Price: Free with registration

Continue the conversation about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and work during North Central College's observance of his birthday. Radio and TV host Tavis Smiley is the keynote speaker at this presentation reflecting on the political leader's life and accomplishments.
Where: Pfeiffer Hall, 30 N. Brainard St., Naperville
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19
Price: $10