On Monday, January 18, 2021, the United States will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for the 38th time as a federal holiday honoring the civil rights leader who was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. Dr. King, who held a Ph.D. in systematic theology, served as co-pastor along with his father Martin Luther King, Sr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a historic Baptist church located in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood in Atlanta.
Dr. King is famous for his role in leading the American civil rights movement through peaceful protests and inspiring speeches. Perhaps most notable is his “I Have a Dream” speech, which has gone on to play a significant role in American culture and politics since he first delivered this address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, and his death made him a martyr to the cause of equal rights and justice under the law for US citizens regardless of their ethnicity. In present-day Atlanta, MLK Day (as the holiday is frequently called) is a day to honor Dr. King’s commitment to equality, freedom and service. Check out this list for some of the ways you can commemorate this holiday in Atlanta and participate in virtual events regardless of your location.
Hands On Atlanta Day(s) of Service
To honor Dr. King’s legacy of service and helping others, Hands On Atlanta – the Atlanta volunteer resource hub – has promoted MLK Day for the past several years as a day of service with projects around the city on that day and the days surrounding it. This year is no exception. Even with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, there are still several projects to participate in.
Truly Living Well
This urban farm and garden which works to provide sustainable produce to underserved communities is hosting a volunteer day where you can assist with mulching more than 200 fruit trees and completing farm maintenance for the winter season. It’s a great opportunity to volunteer outside where it’s easy to maintain social distancing and also serve the Atlanta community and others through a project with a long-lasting and far-reaching impact.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
What better place to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day than at the church where Revered Dr. King served as pastor? You can volunteer by making no-sew fleece blankets to distribute to those in need to keep warm during this cold season in Atlanta. This project is inside, though CDC recommendations will be followed strictly including mask-wearing, social distancing, sanitizing, etc.
“Love Will See You Through,” a Virtual Book Reading
In this virtual book reading, Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Angela Farris Watkins, will read from her book “Love Will See You Through,” sharing Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence in a language designed for children.
Equitable Dinners: Lift Every Voice!
Attend this free, live virtual event for a hosted discussion applying the lens of race equity to engage in topics such as health, food, voting and education. A short play or presentation opens the event followed by small group facilitated conversation. This event is recurring and will take place on the 3rd Sunday of each month from now until June 2021.
At this 3.8 acre urban farm in southwest Atlanta, you can volunteer to help maintain the property which grows and sells fresh fruit and vegetables year round for purchase by local residents in an effort to provide them with healthy food opportunities. Volunteers are needed to assist with various farm projects, and this is another great opportunity to volunteer outside.
Trees Atlanta works to mitigate tree loss and increase the tree canopy in Atlanta. To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and serve the community this year, they will be planting new trees in Brook Run Park in Dunwoody. For this opportunity, it is best if you can bring a partner from your quarantine bubble as this project is easiest accomplished by groups of two working closely, though outside. Learn more/sign up here.
2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service
Reverend Dr. King held dear the notion of the “Beloved Community”, a society based on justice, equal opportunity, nondiscrimination and love of fellow human beings. On this day from 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., The King Center will host the culminating program for this year’s weeklong celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy. This is a virtual event that will be livestreamed on multiple platforms including Facebook, The King Center webpage and Fox 5 Atlanta. The keynote speaker is Bishop TD Jakes, Bishop of The Potter’s House. There will be several other speakers and a concert as well.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection Lecture and Conversation Series (Virtual)
On Thursday, January 28, 2021, from 6-7:30 p.m., join this webinar hosted by Morehouse College and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection where panelists will discuss systemic racism, poverty, militarism and other forms of ongoing injustice. The official panel topic is “Where Do We Go From Here? Facing 2021 and Beyond,” and the featured panel includes Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II (co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign); Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis (co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign); and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III (pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago).
Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival Virtual Screening
From 7 p.m. the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival will host a virtual screening of the film “Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence” with a post-film screening conversation with filmmaker Hal Jacobs, Charles Black and Dr. Vicki Crawford.
As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to honor the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this MLK Day throughout Atlanta. There are both virtual and in-person events related to community building, service and appreciation available for volunteers of all ages. Consider participating in one of these events or opportunities to commemorate the life of this US civil rights legend to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year.
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