Youth from the “Change the Name” Campaign Village Leadership Academy Credit: Bianca Jones / Village Leadership Academy

Monday January 18 commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and there are several ways to participate in our yearly tribute to one of the architects of the civil rights movement. MLK Day has been observed in all 50 states since the year 2000, making the Public Enemy song “By The Time I Get to Arizona” a piece of history (but in this writer’s opinion, a historical jam).

A few of the interesting online programs scheduled:

  • The City of Chicago’s annual Interfaith Celebration was transformed into a virtual presentation this year, free to watch now at the city’s website as part of their Together We Heal collaboration with the people at Public Narrative.
  • Families with children four years old and older can check out the Chicago Children’s Museum’s online MLK Day Celebration, a one-hour interactive presentation including storytelling, writing, and drawing activities. Registration is requested, and the program starts Monday at 11 AM.
  • Hyde Park Art Center hosts Gamechangers and Name Changers, a day of video screenings, panel discussions with Black muralists and intergenerational activists, and a special presentation by the youth organizers of Village Leadership Academy, who successfully led a three year campaign to rename Douglas Park after abolitionists Anna and Frederick Douglass. It’s all online from noon-4 PM on Monday.
  • The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and Black Ensemble Theater present their tenth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on Monday at 6 PM. The free online will be viewable at both organizations’ websites, and feature dance, music, spoken word, and excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches performed by Black Ensemble Theater artists and others.

In addition to learning about Dr. King and the legacy of the movement, many people take the day off to perform acts of service. Here’s a few that you can get in on:

  • The local chapter of AmeriCorps City Year workers are in the middle of a school supply drive for Chicago elementary school students returning to classrooms. You can purchase supplies at their Amazon list (and Amazon will deliver them) or drop off supplies (those of you not into Amazon can just use the link as a shopping list and buy the stuff elsewhere) at a slew of locations listed here.
  • My Block, My Hood, My City is organizing a PPE delivery to area seniors on Monday. Check out their website for more details and to sign up to help.
  • The Love Fridge always needs volunteers to check in on their outdoor and community-sustained refrigerators throughout the city. Go to their website to find locations and sign up.

Music to listen to:

  • Studio One of Jamaica’s Jamaica All Stars, streaming on Bandcamp.
  • A collection of mixtapes put together by the Afropunk Festival.

More events coming up:

  • Sat 1/16, 2 PM: The Museum of Contemporary Art hosts The Dreamscape, an online presentation featuring music, art, and performance, in conjunction with the exhibition “The Long Dream.”
  • Sun 1/17, 2 and 7 PM: Sweet Honey in the Rock performs two virtual concerts, co-presented by the Promontory.
  • Tue 1/19, 7 PM: Elastic Arts present We Series: Sleep, a virtual performance art and music show including work by Marvin Tate and Jordan Reyes.