Seven ways to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during a press conference in 1964. — photo via the U.S. Library of Congress

From volunteering opportunities to a movie screening to educational lectures throughout the day, this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Monday, Jan. 20 — will feature a number of events in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Coralville.

Iowa City

Peace Walk and Rally, Eastdale Plaza, 9 a.m.

The Black Voices Project is organizing a rally and parade aimed at uniting the community in an inclusive event that symbolizes King’s vision.

The event, which is free and open to all, will begin at 9 a.m. with a 30-minute rally at United Action for Youth, 1700 S 1st Ave, which is inside Eastdale Plaza.

Following the rally will be a parade to the Mercer Park Aquatic Center. The parade’s grand marshals include Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague and Iowa City Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih. At the aquatic center, there will be a ceremony, awards, entertainment, free food and a number of other activities.

MLK Day of Service, Mercer Park Gym, 9 a.m.

It’s not too late to sign up for Iowa City’s Day of Service, but spots are limited.

Volunteers will participate in a service project from 9 a.m. to noon. There will be a celebratory program at Mercer Park Gym following the service projects with music, a keynote speaker and free lunch.

The day of service is just one of the events from a collaboration between the city, University of Iowa and various nonprofits. There will be events all throughout the week, including a free screening of Selma, a keynote from Anita Hill and various lectures.


Screening of King in the Wilderness, Coralville Public Library, 2 p.m.

The Coralville Public Library is offering a free public screening at 2 p.m. of the critically acclaimed documentary King in the Wilderness. The documentary focuses on the last three years of King’s life, his belief in nonviolent political action and his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Public reading of “I Have a Dream,” Coralville Public Library, 5 p.m.

The library will also have a free public reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at 5 p.m. Among the readers will be state Sen. Zach Wahls and Johnson County Supervisor Royceann Porter.

Cedar Rapids

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, African American Museum of Iowa, 10 a.m.

The African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids is having their annual event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate the civil rights icon.

Admission is $1 for the day, but members and children under 5 years old get in for free. Admission gives visitors access to the museum’s exhibits and a community reflection activity inspired by King.

Nonviolent Protest Mixed Media Art, Cedar Rapids Public Library, 11:30 a.m.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library will have the opportunity to create art from nonviolent protest print media in honor of King’s work. There will also be the chance to learn about the civil rights movement and contemporary artists who are continuing this work. The hour-long event begins at 11:30 a.m.

The library is featuring two other events in the morning: a special Common Grounds meeting at 9 a.m. and a film presentation by Professor S. Torriano Berry of Howard University at 10:15 a.m.

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Voices from our Beloved Community: Call and Response, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5 p.m.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church is hosting a community meal at 5 p.m. Following the meal will be a celebration with various speakers and musical performances from local choirs.

The “Who is My Neighbor” award, presented in honor of Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris, will be given to two individuals recognized for “diligently working for justice in Linn County.”

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