MLK Day goes virtual—2021 calendar of events

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Naturally, MLK Day celebrations will look and feel a bit differently than previous years as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend life as we know it. But the indelible legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is needed in America perhaps now more than ever.

King’s vision and hope of a “Beloved Community” is a balm for a shaken and deeply divided country. If nothing else, the day offers a wounded nation an opportunity to pause and reflect on the work ahead.

 Below, find just a few of the many virtual events to explore and celebrate Dr. King’s enduring legacy. Let us know of more events in the comments or by emailing msrnewsonlin@spokesman-recorder.com.


January 16       

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MLK Everyday Families

10:30 am – 12 pm

Instead of one day of service and community-building as in past years, St. Cloud State University’s “MLK Everyday Neighbors Serving Neighbors” celebration will offer three free COVID-safe community events starting on Jan. 16 with “MLK Everyday Families.”

For more info, visit bit.ly/NeighborsServingNeighbors.


January 17

MLK Everyday Spirit

11:30am – 1:30 pm

Continuing St. Cloud State University’s three-day celebration, the community is invited to partake in this free celebration that highlights King’s vision of a Beloved Community.

For more info, visit bit.ly/NeighborsServingNeighbors.


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Sweet Potato Comfort Pie’s 7th Annual MLK Holiday of Service

2-4:30 pm

With the aim of “amplifying love with pie,” this year’s Sweet Potato Comfort Pie program will be held online and will offer Sweet Potato Comfort pie pick up at Breck School on Sunday and Monday so that people can distribute pies into the community.

Organizers will distribute 92 pies to honor Dr. King, with the simple, but powerful act of preparing and sharing sweet potato pie as a revered practice for comforting one another and strengthening our human connection. There will be performances in the spirit of Ubuntu to remind participants that each one of us is who we are because of our Beloved Community.  

The event takes place virtually on Sunday, January 17, from 2 to 4:30 pm. On Saturday, January 16 from 12-2 pm, registrants can drive through and pick up slices of pie to enjoy.

To register and find more details, go to bit.ly/SweetPotatoMLK2021 or call Rose McGee at 612-865-1787.


40th Annual Concert: A More Excellent Way—Honoring the Legacy of John Lewis

3 pm

This annual concert honors the Civil Rights Movement with a focus on the legacy of John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hosted and curated by U of M alumnus G. Phillip Shoultz, III of VocalEssence, the event celebrates 40 years of being in community and imagines an excellent way forward.

The special virtual tribute intermixes the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis with musical performances from featured artists, including U of M School of Music graduate student and MacPhail Director of Global Initiatives, Christopher Rochester; founder of the Avant Garde and performer Chadwick “Niles” Phillips; along with appearances from U of M Choirs, the Minnesota Chorale in a joint performance with singers from South Africa, and not-to-be-missed selections from teenagers that make up the VocalEssence Singers Of This Age.

This is a free event and tickets are not required. The event will be streamed on www.facebook.com/UMNMusic and YouTube/University of Minnesota School of Music.


January 18

MLK Everyday Neighbors Serving Neighbors

8:30 am-1:30 pm

This free culminating event of St. Cloud State University’s MLK series starts at 8:30 am with a welcome and awards, followed by the keynote presentation, “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” by ACLU President Jeffery Robinson from 9 am to 12-15 pm. A community conversation led by Robinson follows from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.

For more info, visit bit.ly/NeighborsServingNeighbors.


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31st Annual MLK Breakfast

9 am

This annual event is billed as a bold conversation with Dr. Bernice King and Ambassador Andrew Young, and moderated by Dr. Michael L. Lomax. The virtual celebration, sponsored by UNCF and supported by the General Mills Foundation, also features spoken word artist H. Adam Harris as emcee and host, with special musical guests Billy Steele and the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Choir.

Individual tickets are $25, and proceeds go towards the UNCF Twin Cities MLK Legacy Scholarship Fund helping local students go to and through college. To register, visit www.mlkbreakfast.com. The MLK Holiday Breakfast will be available for viewing free of charge at MLKBreakfast.com beginning at 12 pm.

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Powderhorn Neighborhood Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration

10 am – 12 pm

Join with community members for the 23rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration offering free fun for all ages! The two-hour virtual event showcases visual and performing artists. The celebration will take place on Zoom and be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube. We will center the 92 years that Dr. King’s life and legacy continue to create lasting ripples around the globe through our 92 Strong campaign.


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Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan host the 35th Annual State of Minnesota Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration!

10:30 am

Community members are invited to join together to honor Dr. King’s vision of a Beloved Community. The event will discuss how Dr. King fought for justice and love, worked to end racism and poverty, and what this means today.

This virtual event is geared toward students and youth. Award-winning director, writer, and producer Matthew A. Cherry of animated short film and book fame “Hair Love,” will join the event. 

The event will premiere on the Governor’s YouTube channel. For more info, visit mn.gov/mdhr/mlk.


2021 Twin Ports MLK Virtual Rally

12 – 1:30 pm

Join the Duluth NAACP and its partners in honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the current work toward racial justice in the Twin Ports with a viewing of the 31st MLK Breakfast and a virtual rally in the afternoon.

To view the virtual rally, visit the YouTube page. For more info, go here.


Acting on Dr. King’s Call
4:30 – 5:30 pm

As part of Minnesota Historical Society’s “Black History, Black Voices” focus, this free event ponders how Dr. King’s message regarding “creative maladjustment” relates to generations of institutional racism faced by African Americans. Three local leaders explore how Black Minnesotans have refused to normalize injustice and inequality and are responding today with action, innovation, and persistence.

For more info, visit www.mnhs.org/blackhistory-blackvoices.


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MPRB Annual King Holiday Celebration

6:30-7:30 pm

This year’s Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) free event will be emceed by Chad Jackson, manager, corporate partner sales, with the Minnesota Twins. Devean George, former NBA Player, and founder and executive director of Building Blocks nonprofit will serve as the keynote speaker. Performances that evening will feature local singer/songwriter/producer Lawrence Miles.

The MPRB will present its “Living the Dream” award, which honors an individual, business, or community group who has demonstrated dedication and distinguished service to the MPRB and the lives of Minneapolis residents. This year’s recipients are Jamal Guy and Stephen Slater.

The “Feeding the Dream” Food Drive will not take place this year. However, MPRB is encouraging community members to continue to support Sabathani Community Center and NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center.

For more info, visit www.minneapolisparks.org/MLK or call 612-230-6400.


January 19

HBCU Legacy of Leadership 

4:30 – 5:30 pm

From Dr. King to Kamala Harris, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) produce Black American leaders and legends who advance our society. As part of Minnesota Historical Society’s “Black History, Black Voices” focus, a panel discussion will explore the origin story of HBCUs, how they are critical to the health of our communities, and how local civil rights leaders like Roy Wilkins and Marvel Cook advocated for HBCUs in the North.

This event is free. For more info, visit www.mnhs.org/blackhistory-blackvoices.


January 21

Staying in the Fight

4:30 – 5:30 pm

Continuing the focus on “Black History, Black Voices,” this free event by Minnesota Historical Society focuses on Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights activist who fought alongside Dr. King. He called on all Americans to get in the fight and stay in the fight.

In this program, influential Black leaders discuss their groundbreaking work: delivering innovative solutions all the while challenging activists and allies alike to get in and stay in the fight for racial equity.

For more info, visit www.mnhs.org/blackhistory-blackvoices.


Metropolitan State University Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day Celebration

5 pm

With the theme of “Building CommUNITY: Epitomizing and Evolving Reconstruction in the Midst of Pandemics,” this annual event features Dr. Artika Tyner, educator, author, and advocate for justice and Essence Williams, recipient of Metropolitan State’s George Floyd Memorial Endowed Scholarship for Racial and Social Justice Scholarship.

The event is free. To register, go to bit.ly/MNStateMLKZoom.

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