2023 MLK Calendar of Events

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This year’s events in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offer something for everyone from music that evokes the pain, inspiration, and triumph of the Civil Rights Movement to youth talent shows and opportunities to serve the community. Below we’ve highlighted a few of the happenings in the Twin Cities and beyond. Let us know of more in the comments.

January 13

“Sounds of Blackness: Music for Martin”
7:30 pm @ The Ordway, 345 Washington St., St. Paul
Billed as a multimedia tribute, Grammy award-winning ensemble the Sounds of Blackness offer stylized arrangements of the music that helped power the Civil Rights Movement, complete with narration, audio-visual elements, and excerpts from some of Dr. King’s greatest speeches. $24-$52.
For more info, visit bit.ly/OrdwayMLK

January 14

MLK NOW 2023: The Impact of Gentrification on Rondo
10 am – 10 pm @ Wilder Conference Center, 451 Lexington Pkwy N., St. Paul
BOB Rewards Club’s MLK 2nd annual celebration once again features a host of vendors and keynote speakers that include Karen Wells, mother of Amir Locke, and activist “Mechee X” – Michelle Kulczyk of The Black Agenda Movement in Atlanta, GA.

This year’s event explores the topic of gentrification in St. Paul’s historic Black Rondo neighborhood and what it means economically for the community. The event concludes with a fundraiser mixer and concert featuring the Johnnie Brown Experience. The forum is free; the concert is $35.
For more info, go to mlknow2023.com

January 15

Edify with Sweet Potato Comfort Pie: A Piece of Unity in Action
2-4:30 pm @ Breck School, 123 Ottawa Ave., N., Golden Valley
After a two-year break, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie returns with its 9th annual event aimed at demonstrating love and unity through the sharing of pies. A pre-program will begin promptly at 1 pm with the unveiling of seven new honorees of the “Character Values: Upholding Our Beloved Community” Photo Exhibit.

Following the unveiling, the program will begin with the procession of 94 pies led by community members to honor Dr. King. There will be presentations, awards, and critical racial dialogues among participants. This is a free, hybrid event.
For more info, go to bit.ly/SweetPotatoComfort2023

42nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert
3-4:30 pm @ Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 Fourth St. S., Mpls.
This year’s annual tribute, sponsored by the Office for Equity and Diversity and the School of Music, will be in-person and virtual.

The concert is a multidisciplinary celebration intermixing the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with musical performances from U of M students and the greater Twin Cities community. U of M School of Music alumnus G. Phillip Shoultz, III, of VocalEssence, serves as curator and host. This is a free event. Registration is not required.
For more info, visit bit.ly/UofMMLKTribute

Come to the Table: An MLK Celebration
6-7:30 pm @ The Urban Refuge Church, 5501 Chicago Ave., Mpls
 This event promises an evening of heart-stirring spirituals and worship featuring Gospel artist Tommy Wesley. Pastors Laurel Bunker, David Myles, and Andy Gray will offer spiritual insight and explore improved ways to come to the table, cultivate healthy, diverse communities, and mutually strengthen each other.
For more info, visit bit.ly/CometoTableMLK
 

Fred Steele Presents The Dream Lives: Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.
7:30 pm @ The Dunsmore Jazz Room, Crooner’s, 6161 Hwy 65 N.E., Mpls.
In honor of Dr. King, noted composer, arranger, and producer Fred Steele will offer a collection of sounds from the Civil Rights Movement, including songs from Gospel great Mahalia Jackson, the voice of that time period. The concert features Jhadiya Steele, Brian Z, Kenyari Jackson, Jonathan Bekure, and Spencer Christianson. $20-30.
For more info, visit bit.ly/FredSteeleMLKCrooners

January 16

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast for the Northeast Suburbs
6:45-9:30 am @ United Church of Christ, 3737 Bellaire Ave., White Bear Lake
Enjoy a day full of inspiration, starting with a continental breakfast at 6:45 am, followed by a keynote address at 7:25 am by Dr. Hedy Lemar Walls, executive vice president of social responsibility for the YMCA of the North. The vocal ensemble Cantus will provide music.

Attendees will then watch a televised broadcast of UNCF’s 33rd Annual MLK Holiday Breakfast keynote speaker Valerie Jarrett. This event is free, but registration is required.
For more info, visit bit.ly/MLKNortheastSuburbs

2023 MLK Holiday Tribute Events in the Twin Ports
7 am – 1:30 pm | Various locations
The Duluth NAACP’s MLK celebrations return with in-person events throughout the MLK holiday. The festivities kick off with a community breakfast at 7 am, a brief local program, and a broadcast of UNCF’s MLK Holiday Breakfast keynote address. The breakfast takes place at First United Methodist Church, located at 230 E Skyline Parkway in Duluth.

Following the march, a gathering will take place from 10-11:45 am in the Washington Center gym, located at 310 N 1st Ave. W. The celebration continues with a rally from 12-1:30 pm that features a keynote presentation by Anthony Galloway, the pastor of St. Mark AME Church in Duluth and a principal with the Dendros group. This is a free event.
For more info, go to duluthnaacp.org/mlk

33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast
7:15 am – 9:30 am @ Mpls Convention Center Ballroom, 1301 Second Ave. S., Mpls
With the theme of “Keep Moving Forward,” Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Barack Obama Foundation, will headline this year’s annual breakfast sponsored by General Mills and UNCF.

Entertainment will be provided by the musical group Nunnabove and TKO Drumline and KnockOut Dance Team. Attorney, legal and political analyst Abou B. Amara will serve as host.
In-person tickets are sold out, but virtual tickets are available for $30 per individual household. Proceeds go towards the UNCF Twin Cities MLK Legacy Scholarship Fund, which helps local students go to college.
For more info, visit www.mlkbreakfast.com

Our Beloved Community: The Courage to Celebrate Diversity
7:30–10:30 am @ River’s Edge Convention Center, 10 4th Ave. S., St. Cloud
This year, St. Cloud State University’s MLK celebration features a breakfast of chicken and waffles, activities for kids, service projects, and a keynote address by author and pastor Osheta Moore.

Moore’s book, “Dear White Peacemakers,” written in the wake of George Floyd’s death, is described as a breakup letter to end division, a love letter to God’s beloved community, and an eviction notice to the violent powers that have sustained racism for centuries. This is a free event.
For more info, visit bit.ly/StCloudBelovedMLK2023

37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration
9:15 am – 1 pm @ Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul
Minnesotans of all ages are invited to attend this program that is centered on “Building Black Wealth” and sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This in-person event is free and open to the public. A live stream of the event can be found at tpt.org/mlk2023.
For more info, visit bit.ly/MNMLK2023

25th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
11 am- 2 pm @ Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., Mpls.
This all-ages event offers performances, art activities, lunch, giveaways for kids, and more. The celebration will showcase local artists whose performances are dedicated to the ideals of King’s “Beloved Community” like housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of race-based disparities in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. The event features appearances by Diver VanAvery, Commissioner Angela Conley, Zhané Jackson, Kashimana Ahua, and the Brass Solidarity Band. This is a free event.
For more info, visit www.ppna.org/mlkcelebration

Progress Does Not Make Perfect: A Candid Conversation
1-2 pm via Virtual Event
This virtual event is billed as an honest conversation between The Woke Coach, Seena Hodges, and HandsOn Twin Cities Executive Director Tracy Nielsen. The two will explore topics like what it means to be an accomplice and antiracist, why people are divesting from DEI, how to leverage your personal power to make an impact, and more.
For more info, visit bit.ly/MLKProgress

Martin Luther King Day Reparations 101 Brunch
2-5 pm @ Indigenous Roots Cultural Center, 788 7th St. E., St. Paul
Celebrate the MLK Holiday with a brunch in solidarity with reparations for Native Black Americans, the abolishment of poverty, the end of police brutality, and the endless wars at home and abroad.
For more info, visit bit.ly/ReparationsBrunch

BBB 3rd Annual MLK Black Youth Talent Showcase
3:30 pm @ ECMN building- The Gathering Space, 1101 W Broadway Ave., Mpls.
Black, Bold and Brilliant’s (BBB) third annual event calls on Black youth to tap into and express their creative talents using the seven principles of Kwanzaa as inspiration. In addition to dance, poetry, and visual art, African American youth will recite part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Mountain Top” speech or deliver a speech on the plight of social justice. This is a free event.
For more info, visit bit.ly/BBBTalentShowcase

The MLK Day Criminal Justice Reform Legislative Preview
6-8 pm @ Sabathani Community Center, 310 38th St. E., Mpls.
Hear from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Sen. Clare Oumou Verbeten, DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell, and more at this roundtable discussion of criminal justice reform sponsored by the MN Justice Research Center. The forum will offer Minnesotans a preview of what to expect from the legislative session and how to engage and support transformative changes to the criminal legal system. The event is free, but registration is requested.
For more info and to register, visit www.mnjrc.org/events

MPRB Annual King Holiday Celebration
6:30-8 pm @ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rec. Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls.
Featuring emcee Chad Jackson of the Minnesota Twins, this year’s Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) event features author, educator, and coach Larry McKenzie as the keynote speaker. Mary Merrill, the superintendent emeritus of MPRB’s MLK Park Legacy Council, serves as guest speaker. Musical performances include soulful crooner Ray Covington and a spoken word performance by Jamyah Trueblood. The MPRB will also present its 2023 “Living the Dream” award to The Sanneh Foundation.
For more info, visit www.minneapolisparks.org/MLK

MLK Day Celebration with Jearlyn Steele
7 pm @ The Dakota, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.
Savor the legacy of Dr. King with the soulful sounds of Jearlyn Steele of the famed Steele family. Brother Billy Steele joins Jearlyn on piano/keyboard, with Eric Yates on bass, Kenyari Jackson on drums, and Kenni Holmen on horns. $25-35.
For more info, visit www.dakotacooks.com/event/mlk-day-celebration

January 19

Building CommUNITY: Uplift, Heal, and Empower for Radical Inclusion
11 am-1 pm @ Great Hall, 403 Maria Ave., St. Paul
This year’s Metro State University MLK celebration offers a chance for participants to pay it forward by helping pack snack bags and personal hygiene items for the school’s food pantry, the Student Parent and Resource Center and external community locations. This event is free and open to the public. Pizza lunch will be provided.
For more info, visit bit.ly/BuildingCommUNITY

Personifying Beloved Community Virtual Event
11 am @ Virtual Event
Minneapolis College’s virtual celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King seeks to encourage reflection on the civil rights leader’s dedication to equality and the Civil Rights Movement. The event will showcase winning scholarship entries from students’ essays on King’s work and legacy.
For more info, visit minneapolis.edu/mlk

Honorable mentions:

“I Am Not You. You Are Not Me” Exhibit
Another great way to commemorate Dr. King’s fight against injustice is to visit the new George Floyd “rememory exhibit” now on display at Methodist Hospital.
Made possible through a partnership between the George Floyd Global Memorial and the Park Nicollet Foundation, the exhibit features artwork, artifacts, and expressions left by visitors at Floyd’s memorial on 38th and Chicago. The exhibit opened on Jan. 6 and runs until March 3. It’s free and open to the public. Methodist Hospital is located at 6500 Excelsior Blvd. in St. Louis Park.
For more info, visit www.georgefloydglobalmemorial.org/art-justice/exhibits

“1 City, 2 Realities” Exhibit
Billed as the first truly virtual exhibition space highlighting racial inequalities in the nation, this exhibit uses photos, videos, audio clips, and data visualizations to get beyond the “Minnesota Nice” façade and into the place of reality to address systemic inequality head-on. Running from Jan. 13-22, the free, virtual exhibition is available for anyone with internet access from their own home or workplace.
For more info, visit bit.ly/1City2Realities2023

 

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