Orlando Mayor’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission



The mission for the Orlando Mayor's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is to strengthen our community by promoting Dr. King's legacy of service, equality, justice, peace, respect and inclusion for all.

For more than three decades, the MLK Commission has joined with corporate and community partners to plan and promote a variety of programs and events that celebrate his life and legacy.

The Commission is a partnership and represents a cross-section of civic leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors. Its primary responsibilities include fundraising, marketing, media relations and overall coordination of citywide MLK events.

Upcoming MLK Events

Orlando Mayor Dyer appoints 24 people from the private, public and not-for-profit sector. In addition to the Commission’s programs and events, such as the MLK Youth Humanitarian Program, the MLK Concert and the Great Day of Service, the Commission is responsible for fundraising, supporting, promoting and coordinating events throughout the Greater Orlando area, primarily occurring  around the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in January. The Commission is led by an executive team and supported by City of Orlando staff. 

The executive team meets year round, and the Commission meets throughout the fall and winter with concentrated times during the weeks before and after the King Holiday (the third Monday in January). Members are expected to attend the Commission meetings and as many of the Holiday weekend events as possible:

  • to help “spread the word” to their workplaces and other communities.
  • participate in the Mayor’s MLK Humanitarian Award Service which is usually held in February.

There are six to eight MLK Commission meetings and numerous events during the two weeks before and after the King Holiday. This includes a Great Day of Service (GDOS) on the King Holiday. Meetings are held at Orlando City Hall. The events take place throughout the city.

The national holiday commemorating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began in 1986. In anticipation of the new holiday, Orlando City Commissioner Mable Butler urged the City of Orlando to formally establish a committee to recognize and honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the national King Holiday. Mayor Bill Frederick established the Martin Luther King Celebration Day Committee in 1985.  Although the city had provided funding for activities, this group was also charged with planning and coordinating holiday activities. The group saw the holiday as an opportunity to bring the community together.

Shortly thereafter, the small group was expanded by Mayor Frederick to include appointed members from the public, private and non-profit sectors to fundraise and coordinate celebration and recognition events each January and was renamed the Mayor’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission. It is important to note that two community organizations have partnered with the Commission since its inception: the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Southwest Orlando Jaycees.  

The work of the Commission continued to increase under the administration of Mayor Glenda E. Hood.  In order to show the importance of the MLK Holiday to the City of Orlando, she initiated the vigil at City Hall and the community candlelight walk to the annual interfaith service. Mayor Hood challenged the Commission each year to reach out to different populations in the community. As a result of her request to reach out to our community’s youth, the Mayor’s MLK Youth Humanitarian Award program began in 2000. One student from each middle and high school in Orange County Public Schools was selected each year because he or she demonstrated specific ideals of Dr. King. This program, which is now a leadership program for OCPS high school students, has grown to be the Commission’s own signature event with nationally-known speakers inspiring the students, families, school personnel, Commission sponsors and guests at the annual award service.

Under the committed leadership of current Mayor Buddy Dyer, the Commission has evolved from concentrating primarily on holiday events to a year-round commission which focuses on specific aspects of Dr. King’s legacy - service, equality, peace, justice and inclusion for all. A name change as well as a new mission statement came with that expanded focus.

The name change and expanded mission have resulted in the Commission participating in, supporting and leading community events, such as the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Like Mayor Hood, Mayor Dyer challenges the Commission each year to continue to broaden its outreach into the community each year.

Class of 2017 Humanitarian Recipients

School First Name Last Name
Acceleration Academy East Krishna Davis
Acceleration Academy West Victoria Clarke
Apopka High School Nadesha Phipps
Boone High School Julianne Cheatham
Central Florida Leadership Academy Tyrece Leger
Colonial High School Marangellie Garcia
Cornerstone Charter Academy Christine Sarkis
Cypress Creek High School William Everett
Dr. Phillips High School Doneil Brown
East River High School Nicholas Maddron
Edgewater High School Niiya Terry
Evans High School Marc Jolimer
Freedom High School Max Thomas
Jones High School Emmanuelle Paul
Lake Nona High School Mailys Reyes
Oak Ridge High School Gillian Stawiszynski
Ocoee High School Tess Butler
Olympia High School Justin Brown
Timber Creek High School Kayley Estoesta
University High School Jazmine Washington
Wekiva High School Rebecca Pierre
West Orange High School Nicholas Marotta
Winter Park High School Chelsey Flores

Message to our Sponsors:

We are grateful to our sponsors and community supporters for your commitment to our community becoming the beloved community that Dr. King dreamed about.

Become a Sponsor

If you would like to invest in our mission and work, become a sponsor of the commission, or speak with someone about making an investment. View the sponsorship package.

Current Sponsors

MLK Sponsor Logos


Brio Properties, Greenburg Traurig, Orlando Realtors Association


4Rivers, Accredited Surety and Casualty Company, Inc, City of Orlando, Cox Media Group, Florida A & M University College of Law, Pepsico


First United Methodist Church of Orlando, Holland & Knight, LeCesse Development Corporation


Florida Citrus Sports, Tavistock



"I am proud to be the Mayor of Orlando, a city that is strong and united, and one in which diversity and inclusion are core values. Orlando is a city for everyone – a diverse, inclusive, compassionate, welcoming place.” – Mayor Buddy Dyer

Stewardship: $56,044

  • 26% - Community Outreach and Support
  • 49% - MLK Events Funded
  • 24% - Scholarships, Student Awards & Recognition
  • 1% - Administration

Scholarships & Awards: $13,600

  • Humanitarian Awards $3,600
  • Middle School Essay Prizes $4,000
  • College Scholarships $6,000

Major Events

  • Candlelight Vigil and Interfaith Multicultural Celebration
  • Mayor’s MLK Youth Humanitarians Program and Award Service
  • Downtown Orlando Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade
  • Great Day of Service Projects
  • Beyond the Dream MLK Concert
  • Spread the Dream Middle School Program
  • MLK Leadership Forum and Commemorative Luncheon
  • Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Prayer Breakfast
  • City of Hope Concert


  • 700+ volunteers participated in donating 2,800 hours during Great Day of Service projects, throughout the city of Orlando as well as Catalina Elementary and Memorial Middle Schools
  • Programming impacted over 30,000 Central Florida residents
  • Funded 17 community events celebrating Dr. King's legacy and promoted 18 additional events
  • 24 OCPS High School students were recognized and celebrated as the Mayor’s MLK Youth Humanitarians who exemplify the ideals of Dr. King


Thank you to the following supporters whose donations help contribute to the legacy of Dr. King.

Drum Major/Signature ($11,000+ Cash Donation)

OUC - The Reliable One

Equality ($7,500+ CASH DONATION)

Walt Disney World Co. Wayne M. Densch Charities, Inc.

Justice ($5,000+ CASH DONATION)

Darden Restaurants • Orlando Health Orlando Magic

Peace ($2,500+ CASH DONATION)

Florida Blue • Golf Channel • JP Morgan Chase Orlando Regional Realtors Association Orlando Weekly • Shutts Universal Orlando Resort University of Central Florida Valencia Community College

Respect ($1,500+ CASH DONATION)

Akerman, LLC • Brio Properties Greenberg Traurig • MSL CPAs & Advisors INCLUSION ($1,000+ CASH OR $2,000 IN-KIND DONATION) City of Orlando • Cox Media Group FAMU College of Law • Full Sail University JLL • LeCesse Development Publix Super Markets Charities