Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations will take on a new look this year, but his life and legacy will still be honored.
Like most events during the coronavirus pandemic, celebrations will mostly be virtual. Although a scattering of in-person events will take place, most cities planning events for Monday will be online.
Here is a roundup of what a few cities will be doing on Monday. These are just a snapshot of activities to illustrate the variety of celebrations taking place across the country.
The King Center normally hosts one of the largest celebrations with participation from Dr. King’s family. This year will be no different, albeit online.
There are several events planned, but the culminating program is the Beloved Community Commemorative Service. It will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. ET and be streamed on the King Center website, Facebook, and televised locally on Fox 5 Atlanta.
The California African American Museum’s annual celebration takes place all day on Zoom, with free registration required in advance. Events will include a performance by the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, a study group focused on King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, a social justice panel, a children’s story hour, and a poetry workshop. Events begin at 10 a.m. PT and run into the late afternoon.
Each year, AmeriCorps organizes thousands of volunteers for a day of service in the District of Columbia. But instead of physically painting schools or cleaning parks, this year’s projects will be available for participants to complete from their homes. It is the kickoff of 6 Weeks of Winter Service. Volunteers must pre-register to get their assignments for Monday.
The 39th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade will take place as usual, but it will be virtual this time. It will include a variety of entertainment, including marching bands, dancers, DJs, and more. It begins at 10 a.m. PT and can be live-streamed.
The Art Institute of Chicago has many events planned for the weekend, including a Rebirth Poetry Ensemble. Area youth will present spoken-word responses, and Bias Butler’s quilts will be displayed to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King through original stories woven together. This culminating event will be available virtually from 5-6:15 p.m. CT.
The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture will host its annual King symposium virtually at 6 p.m. CT. The keynote speaker will be Annette Gordon-Reed, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for History. The theme will be the impact of slavery on Dr. King’s dream.
Seattle is one of the few cities planning a live, in-person event. The Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Organizing Coalition will host its 39th annual Seattle MLK march and rally. Social distancing and face masks will be required for participants, who will gather at 11 a.m. PT at Garfield High School. The march starts at noon.
Check with your local sources for virtual events in your area.