Martin Luther King Jr. Center
Martin Luther King Jr. Center Closure
A long-awaited project that will invest nearly two million dollars into a Jackson neighborhood is about to get started. The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center will close to the public on Saturday, Feb. 29 so staff can prepare the facility for a full renovation of the building.
Following the closure on Feb. 29, City staff have made arrangements with two local churches so the center’s recreation programs can continue. Youth programs will take place at the St. John’s United Center for Caring, 801 S. Mechanic St., and senior programs will continue at Second Missionary Baptist Church, 304 E. Prospect St.
The MLK Center will open to the public temporarily on Tuesday, March 10, so it can function as the polling place for Ward 1 in the Presidential Primary Election, and on Wednesday, March 11, for a job fair. Following these events, construction on the building will officially begin and is expected to take place throughout summer 2020.
In January, 2020, the Jackson City Council approved a $1.9 million construction contract for the MLK Center, which is being paid for by municipal bonds. Plans call for a full renovation of the community center, including a larger kitchen, a building addition for more office space, a new roof, expanded weight room, resurfaced gym floor, and more windows throughout the facility.
Over the years, the MLK Center has grown beyond just recreational offerings, and now provides after school and summer programs, free meals, tutoring, and has become a gathering place for residents young and old. College courses through Jackson College are now offered at the center. The MLK Center has been a big part of Jackson’s south side community for over 50 years, and the center’s director, John Willis, says this investment will help the center continue to be a community resource for their next 50 years. “This renovation means a lot to the community center and the neighborhoods we serve. During the construction, we plan to maintain the same level of service we give to the community at other locations,” Willis said.
The City of Jackson will provide regular construction and recreation program updates to the community as they become available
About the Martin Luther King Jr. Center
The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center is located in the Howard Woods Recreation Complex at 1107 Adrian Street. The center sits on 10 acres that includes basketball and tennis courts, a pavilion, a softball and little league baseball field, and a 1/3 mile walking track that connects to the MLK Equality Trail.
The interior of the community center includes a multipurpose gymnasium with a traverse wall for youth. The center also offers a Health and Fitness Room that includes free weights, weight machines, and cardiovascular heath equipment including treadmills and elliptical machines. Connecting to the gym is the commercial kitchen that serves warm dinners to youth every week day after-school, and is used frequently for special events and rentals.
The northwest end of the center includes the Flamingo Brown Meeting Room where many local community organizations hold regular meetings each month. Some of the groups that meet in this room include the NAACP, The A. Phillip Randolph Organization, National Association of Negro and Professional Business Women, and the Southside Reunion Committee. College classes are also offered in the Flamingo Brown Meeting Room through Jackson College.
The southwest end of the center offers the Tony Dungy/Comcast Media Lounge. The lounge is currently being renovated and includes multiple computers with internet access and other internet ready programs. The lounge includes the Comcast Digital Recording Studio’s that offer music and studio recording and learning opportunities to youth in the community.
Each week day the center has an after-school program that operates from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for all school aged youth. The youth participate in supervised recreational activities, homework assistance and tutoring, and receive free hot meals provided by the Jackson Public Schools Nutrition Program.
There are also sports training programs, weight training assistance, as well as a variety of recreation programs offered through the parks and recreation department held at the center.
The King Center also hosts a variety of special events such as church teas, birthday parties, anniversaries, and a variety of other community meetings. Applications for reserved events are available online (PDF), at the center and at the Jackson Parks and Recreation Department Main Office. Please check with the center first for availability before completing your event application. Reserved City of Jackson events take precedence over rental activities.