By Jennifer McKee
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929 and was inspired by the teachings of Gandhi in seminary school. He later took up the same pulpit as his father and grandfather before him at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and ultimately became the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. At 35, he became the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1983, MLK’s birthday became a national holiday. 38 years later, his teachings are more important than ever. Cherish King’s memory and make a difference yourself with 2021’s virtual MLK events. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free.
Events at The King Center Atlanta
The world’s most authoritative home to source materials on King and the American Civil Rights Movement, The King Center was established by Coretta Scott King in 1968. It’s also where MLK and Coretta are entombed.
This year’s King Day offerings include a number of ways to get involved here virtually, such as a global summit with national and international speakers on peace and equity (King’s daughter Bernice is the keynote speaker), nonviolence virtual training sessions, a community commemorative service and more.
Western Michigan University events
Participate in events such as a Twitter discussion on resistance and healing, a virtual public healing experience, a National Day of Racial Healing Celebration and a virtual convocation with Dr. D-L Stewart, who presents “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free.” Event registration is free but required.
Learn more about MLK’s 1963 speech at WMU here.
Saturday, January 16
Voices of Freedom: Arscht Center Tribute
A live-streamed event that was filmed at the North Beach Bandshell, Miami artists reflect on MLK’s six principles of nonviolence. Acts include singer/songwriters, an adult and children’s chorus and poetry.
Monday, January 18
The Virtual MLK Dare to Dream Day
This afternoon-long event from the American Visionary Art Museum features three segments that last 45 minutes each: an artist talk with Kyle Yearwood (11 am EST), a poetry slam and open mic (noon EST) and a performance by Landis Expandis (1 pm EST).
Nashville MLK Day Virtual Convocation
Now celebrating 32 years, this convocation is one of the oldest in the country, and organized by the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship. It honors the legacy of not only Dr. King but John Lewis. Join featured speaker Reverend James Lawson, 2020 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate Alora Young and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
Stories from the Black Community
An evening program by black storytellers who share accounts of mental health healing, “This Is My Brave” works to eliminate the stigma of people who suffer in silence. Stories are shared via spoken word, original poetry, comedy, dance and original music.
Minecraft March on Washington
Get a unique look at MLK’s 1963 March on Washington—through the Minecraft video game! Meet the leaders who paved the way for change and current activists who continue King’s legacy to this day. There are a limit of 250 free spots available, so sign up today.
California African American Museum
Attend a day-long series of inspiring events, such as a musical welcome from the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, a study group to discuss King’s speech in support of Memphis Sanitation Workers, a Black Workers and Social Justice forum, family story time and a poetry workshop.
Tuesday, January 19
Lipscomb University Virtual Forum
Lipscomb presents “Keeping Our Community Healthy,” a talk with leaders in the art, entertainment, service, research and mental health fields. Free, but registration is required.
Thursday, January 21
Virtual Panel on Philanthropy & Advancing Racial Equity
Explore how philanthropy can be a way to move racial equity forward in the community. The panel is made up of authors and CEOs.