As America celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19, Bay Area commemorations are coordinated by NORCALMLK (The Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation) and the 2015 holiday is centered on the “March to Freedom.” Participants from communities around the Bay Area join the day of free events taking place around the Martin Luther King Waterfall at Yerba Buena Gardens, the nation’s third largest monument in honor of Dr. King. During the MLK celebration, the nearby Museum of the African Diaspora and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Gallery are extending free admission. Honor Martin Luther King Jr. with these Bay Area celebrations.

The Last Ever Freedom Train — San Mateo County Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
San Mateo Downtown Caltrain Station
385 First Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 377-8708

Date: Jan. 19, 2015

Everyone is asked to bring food items for the Second Harvest Food Bank to the free 16th Annual San Mateo County MLK Day Celebration and continental breakfast gathering at the Caltrain Station. Following the program, celebrants who purchase tickets for the 10:05 a.m. MLK train departing from San Mateo to join the MLK March and Celebration in San Francisco, which begins at the city’s King Street Caltrain Station.

This will be the final Freedom Train ride. Organizers write, “Due to lack of community interest/support/participation, and a lack of sponsorship, it is with a great deal of sadness that after 30 plus years, we are announcing that the Monday, January 19, 2015 Freedom Train started by the beloved Coretta Scott King, will take its last run from San Jose to San Francisco.” You still be part of history by purchasing tickets below.

Freedom Train
San Jose Diridon Train Station
65 Cahill Street
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 861-5323

Date: Jan. 19, 2015

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley will charter Caltrain as its “Freedom Train.” All 1,600 tickets are on sale for $10 for the non-stop return trip. During the journey, Freedom Riders learn the history of the Civil Rights Movement by telling, hearing and sharing real-life stories and singing songs of the era before gathering at San Francisco’s Caltrain Station for the MLK Day March.

The Caltrain Freedom Train was the only remaining of the nation’s 29 official MLK commemorative train services launched in San Jose over 30 years ago by the late Coretta Scott King to symbolize and to commemorate the 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.  2015 will be its final run (See note above).

MLK March of Freedom
Caltrain Station
700 King Street at 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 691-6212

Date: Jan 19, 2015

A re-enactment of the movement’s most powerful weapon of protest, the peaceful march, takes place each year. Thousands from all walks of life will march 1.5 miles from San Francisco’s Caltrain Station, crossing Lefty O’Doul Bridge to symbolize the crossing of Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, pausing at Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park before going on to Yerba Buena Gardens.

In a spiritual reflection of his message, San Francisco Interfaith Council brings together faith leaders from across the region to pay tribute to Dr. King’s vision and leadership. Events are planned throughout the day to honor the late leader of the Civil Rights movement.

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Interfaith Ceremonies and Live Music
Yerba Buena Gardens
750 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 691-6212

Date: Jan. 19, 2015

The annual interfaith commemoration on the Esplanade Stage in Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco takes place at the conclusion of the march. Hear the inspirational words of Dr. King, ecumenical prayers, addresses and vocals. An afternoon filled with everything from conversations to concerts and from dialogue to dance forms is planned for all ages. A Children’s Discovery Hunt and a Health and Wellness Festival are among the highlights. This event is free of admission.

National Parks Free Day
Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-2595

Date: Jan. 19, 2015

While not an MLK celebration in itself, the enjoyment of fresh air in clean parks of outstanding natural beauty is a precious American way of life. Many have their calendars circled for fees-free days at the nation’s parks. All U.S. National Parks are free of admission on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Muir Woods, 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge off Highway 101 North, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on January 19, 2015. No reservations are required, but crowds are expected. In San Francisco Bay, the Alcatraz Cruise concessionaire of the National Park Service has fares in operation to get guests to Alcatraz, and sell-outs typically occur early on holidays.

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy will have a number of volunteer opportunities available throughout the Bay Area for winter workdays in the spirit of giving to assist in maintaining 80,000 acres of park land. They need plenty of help working toward the GGNRA vision of “Parks For All Forever.”

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Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on