Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Mon Jan 18) comes just two days before the inauguration and amidst strong political divides, giving this year's celebration of the civil rights leader a special kind of weight. While things are different this year with COVID restrictions in place, there are plenty of plague-avoidant ways to honor MLK's legacy throughout the long weekend (and beyond). See all the options for Seattle (like the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition's week of online activities culminating in the annual rally and march at Garfield High School), Portland (like the Reclaim MLK march in Peninsula Park), and nationwide (like a screening of MLK/FBI at the NY Social Justice Film Festival) below, and check out our complete MLK Day, resistance, and BIPOC-focused events calendars for even more options.
Events are online unless otherwise noted.
Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition 2021 Workshops
The Seattle Martin Luther King, Jr. Organizing Coalition will host a week of online workshops that address white supremacy, racism, anti-racism, and police brutality, with titles like "White Supremacy Through Violence: Lynching in America, Then and Now" (Jan 12) and "14 Demands for Healing Washington" (Jan 14). The online events will culminate in the annual march and rally at Garfield High School (Jan 18), which will also be livestreamed.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13
Advancing Racial Equity with Your Privilege
This mini-workshop with Kemy Joseph (the co-founder of F.E.A.R.S. Advantage) will focus on how "purpose-driven business leaders" can use MLK's model of racial equity to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their company cultures.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 14
What Is Dr. King's Beloved Community & How Do We Achieve It? A Community Conversation
Learn what MLK meant when he talked about "beloved community," and hear from a panel of local leaders like Shorecrest High School Principal Lisa Gonzalez on how they're working to build it in their own circles.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 15
2021 Rally for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Join the 5th Avenue Theatre for a livestreamed broadcast of a Kent MLK Day rally.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16
48th Annual Community Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.
Catch the rebroadcast of Seattle Colleges January 15 virtual MLK Day program hosted by KIRO-7 anchor Monique Ming Laven.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 17
Grounding – A Stone of Hope
Keeping MLK's words "hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope" in mind, Gathering Ground invites you to bring three unique stones to an online practice to help "ground you in your most important values."
Expansions Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Special
On April 4, 1968, the day a gunman shot the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Riz Rollins was a middle schooler in Chicago. In those tumultuous years, not unlike our own, Riz said, "Rioting was a part of the fabric of daily life." As for what would happen in the aftermath of Dr. King's assassination? "I thought the sky was going to catch on fire." Today, Riz Rollins is a Seattle cultural treasure who you can hear every Monday evening on KEXP from 4-7 pm and occasional Sundays nights as one of the rotating hosts of Expansions, the electronic music show that is every discerning audiophile's ritual to wind down the weekend. This Sunday, the eve of MLK Day, will bring the 21st edition of an Expansions tradition, one that can't be stopped even by a pandemic that has put nightlife as we knew it in survival mode: the MLK Unity party. KEXP will dedicate six hours to the life and legacy of Dr. King, starting with Sunday Soul, hosted by DJ Supreme La Rock, and continuing through until midnight with Expansions' mind-altering quintent of radio jocks, Kid Hops, Sharlese, Brit Hansen, Alex, and of course Riz, who will each contribute a mix for the occasion. GREG SCRUGGS
Greater Everett Community MLK Drive-By Parade
Get in your car or put on some walking shoes and a mask and make your way from the Snohomish County Courthouse to Everett Community College celebrating Martin Luther King's civil rights legacy with NAACP Snohomish County. If you can't make it in person, tune in online the day before (Sun Jan 17) for live music and performances on Facebook Live.
Snohomish County Courthouse (Everett)
JANUARY 17-MAY 2
Abolition? (15 Week Course)
Local activist, attorney, and former Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver will teach a 15-week online course on abolition at Seattle University School of Law, open to the public, kicking off the day before MLK Day.
THROUGH JANUARY 18
MLK Day Walk in the Park
Lake Sammamish State Park invites you to reflect on the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. as you walk from Tibbetts Beach to the Sunset Beach bathhouse, where the pathways are peppered with his quotes.
Lake Sammamish State Park (Issaquah)
MONDAY, JANUARY 18
Becoming Brave - A Tribute to Rev. D. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Join the Communities of Color Coalition for an online music, spoken-word, and dance tribute to Martin Luther King.
Collective Voices/Collective Hope
Tacoma's 33rd annual MLK Birthday Celebration promises local performers and speakers broadcast live on TV Tacoma and the City of Tacoma Facebook page.
MLK Day Rally and March
Seattle Martin Luther King, Jr. Organizing Coalition's annual MLK Day march and rally will be broadcast live on Rainier Avenue Radio's Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch pages for those who don't want to attend in person due to COVID.
Garfield High School (Central District)
The Northwest African American Museum will continue its tradition of honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with an afternoon of virtual festivities, including community leaders reading civil rights books to children, family-based trivia, a film screening, and a keynote address from Princeton University African American Studies professor Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. The museum is also offering Books & Balls, a drive-through giveaway of Black American books at the Amy Yee Tennis Center in partnership with the Seattle Sounders Rave Foundation and the City of Seattle Rec’N The Streets.
Amy Yee Tennis Center (Mt. Baker) and online
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19
2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
The University of Puget Sound's 35th annual MLK Day celebration, taking place online, will revolve around a keynote speech from multi-genre writer and former Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia-Reneé.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21
BAZZOOKA Virtual Premiere and Watch Party
The first episode of this Seattle-centric "visual document of the Black experience in 2022" stars the Black Tones' Eva Walker, local drag duo LÜCHI, and Beverly Crusher's Cozell Wilson and features an all-Black soundtrack. Check it out on Zoom or YouTube Live and enjoy a live Q&A with the cast and crew.
MLK Day of Service 2021
Since they can't ask people to gather in person this year to participate in volunteer opportunities, United Way of King County invites you to a virtual panel discussion with Edgar Villanueva (Decolonizing Wealth), Gordon McHenry, Jr. (CEO of United Way King County), Zamzam Mohamed (CEO of Voices of Tomorrow), and Andrea Caupain Sanderson (CEO of Byrd Barr Place) on how philanthropy can help achieve greater racial equity. They also encourage everyone to attend or stream the MLK Day March at Garfield High School.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 15
Honoring the Life and Legacy of Dr. King Martin Luther King, Jr.
Join Mt. Hood Community College in taking a close look at MLK's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," an open letter he wrote in 1963 after he was arrested for protesting segregation and violence against Black Americans in Alabama.
Living the Legacy Series
Portland State University will host three Zoom talks for MLK Day, including one with the University of California Berkeley’s first-ever Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Lasana Hotep (Jan 15).
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16
WOMI presents: MLK Day
Wall of Moms International promises food vendors, DJs, speakers, and live performances from the likes of Antoinette Rootsdawta and Skyler Ray at this socially distanced MLK Day celebration in the park. There will also be a place to donate food and clothing, so haul over your nonperishables and gently used threads.
Irving Park (Northeast)
MONDAY, JANUARY 18
The American Dream Community Reading
The folks at Portland Playhouse will deliver a Facebook Live reading of MLK's famous sermon "The American Dream," originally delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on July 4, 1965.
Awareness in Action
Join the Tigard Library for an online program of music by Ben Rice, plus addresses from guest speakers like Mayors Ken Gibson, Jason Snider, and Walt Williams; Leonard Bell; and members of the Tigard High School Black Student Union.
39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote and Awards Celebration
Oregon State University will honor the memory of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. with an online edition of their annual breakfast program, which features a keynote address from the one and only Angela Davis.
Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Tribute to the Life & Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
See a retrospective of performances, speeches, and more that have been recorded from past iterations of the World Arts Foundation's annual Portland MLK Jr. Day celebration.
MLK Day of Service with SOLVE
Mask up and help pick up litter in downtown Portland with SOLVE to fulfill your MLK Day volunteer duty.
Martin Luther King Jr Celebration with Lawanda Jackson
After an outdoor, socially distanced cocktail hour, Portland-born drag star Lawanda Jackson will host a screening of Ava DuVernay's NAACP Image Award-winning film Selma, followed by a group discussion.
Local Lounge (Northeast)
The Power of Resilience
Silverton will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration online with keynote speaker Cameron Whitten, who started the nonprofit Brown Hope. Readings and songs are also on the roster.
Reclaim MLK 2021
Join Don't Shoot Portland, Social Change Matters, and other local orgs for a civil rights march on MLK Day.
Peninsula Park (North Portland)
The Skanner Foundation 35th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast
You provide the breakfast, the Skanner Foundation (an online regional newspaper associated with the West Coast Black Publishers Association) will provide the online community celebration of Dr. King featuring local leaders and musical talent, including addresses from US Sen. Ron Wyden, Mayor Ted Wheeler, singer-songwriter Tahirah Memory, and others.
Yamhill County MLK Day
Tune in on Facebook Live, YouTube, or Zoom as the Chehalem Cultural Center celebrates its 11th annual MLK Day event with keynote speaker Dr. Carol Parker Walsh.
Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival
Films, conversations, and special events that inspire social change when it comes to broad themes of inequality, injustice, and accountability drive this New York-based film festival, which opens with Sam Pollard's MLK/FBI, an "archival tapestry" that follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he is investigated and harassed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Jan 14), which will be followed by a Q&A with Pollard. Other MLK-related programming includes a talk and Q&A on Black-Jewish relations throughout history (Jan 16) and a screening of Sonia Lowman's film Black Boys, followed by a Q&A (Jan 17).
MONDAY, JANUARY 18
National Park Free Days
Grab your mask and get outside to your nearest national park for free on major holidays like MLK Day.
State Parks Free Days
If you don't have a Discover Pass but you still want to take in Northwest wildlife in all its evergreen-hued glory, take advantage of free admission to Washington state parks on special days throughout the year.
One Night in Miami
A minimalist film that's vast in its ambition, One Night in Miami is a simply magnificent debut from director Regina King. King, an acclaimed actor, has directed television before, but with One Night in Miami she has tapped into something transfixing as she tells the story of four legends of history who find themselves together in a singular motel room. These legends are civil rights leader Malcolm X, boxer Cassius Clay, football player Jim Brown, and musician Sam Cooke played by Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr. respectively. They all come together under the same roof as they discuss their individual and collective futures. The film's one night in question takes place after Cassius, who had yet to become Muhammad Ali, has defeated Sonny Liston. Well-directed boxing scenes are only the appetizer to the main course, which is scene after scene of crackling conversation. At the thirty-minute mark, the film settles in to become a canvas for reflective musings from the four friends. CHASE HUTCHINSON