Six ways to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday

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

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Monday, Jan. 18 — will feature virtual celebrations, as well as a car parade and free food in Iowa City.

MLK Celebration of Human Rights Kick-off

Virtual, 10 a.m.

The University of Iowa’s celebration honoring King includes guest speakers, performances and a resource fair. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The university is also organizing additional events to honor King throughout the month of January, including blood drives, a youth summit and lectures. A calendar of events can be found online.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration

African American Museum of Iowa, 10 a.m.

The African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids is planning a celebration full of learning, crafting and reflecting on King’s vision of social justice. Limited information about the event is available at the moment, but it is expected to feature activities from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. virtually and at the museum.

The museum will also have $1 admission for the day to showcase two exhibits: Endless Possibilities and Unwavering: 21st Century Activism. AAMI members and children under 5 years old have free admission. Anyone visiting the museum is required to wear a face mask.

Truth, Love and Justice Unity Parade

913 S Dubuque St in Iowa City, noon

Individuals are invited to join the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and other community leaders in a car parade that will celebrate the life and legacy of King.

The hour-long parade is scheduled to start at noon, and cars can begin lining up at 11:30 a.m. Individuals are asked to meet at the Johnson County Administration Building, 913 S Dubuque St.

Community Lunch

1104 S Gilbert St in Iowa City, 12:30 p.m.

Rodney’s Jamaican Jerk & BBQ food truck is providing free lunch to go while supplies last. Each person can receive one meal, which includes a choice of meat and two sides.

The food truck will be located at 1104 S Gilbert St from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.


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Rodney’s Jamaican Jerk & BBQ in Iowa City. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village
We the People: Protest and Peace

Facebook Live, 7 p.m.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids is hosting their annual event celebrating King with music and speakers. The free event will be streamed live on Facebook starting at 7 p.m.

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.”

Percy and Lileah Harris pictured in their Bever Avenue home with 10 of their 12 children, 1968. This photo originally appeared in a Maytag advertisement in ‘Ebony’ Magazine.
Film screening of John Lewis: Good Trouble

Virtual, Jan. 15-30

The film John Lewis: Good Trouble will be available to stream for free from Friday, Jan. 15, until Saturday, Jan. 30, through FilmScene’s virtual cinema.

The film highlights the life and legacy of U.S. Representative John Lewis, who died on July 17, 2020. Lewis was involved in more than 60 years of activism, including organizing Freedom Rides and standing at the front lines in the marches on Washington and Selma.

In an interview with the Atlantic that was published in April 2018, Lewis shared the impact King had on him. The two met for the first time in 1958 when Lewis was 18 years old.

“I saw King so many times afterward — during the end of the Freedom Rides and during our efforts to desegregate places all across the South,” Lewis told the Atlantic’s Vann R. Newkirk II. “He inspired me. He lifted me. He was a brave and courageous person, and when you would listen to him speak or talk to you, you were ready to go out there and put your life on the line, because he made it so plain and so clear that it was the right thing to do. He taught me to be hopeful, to be optimistic, to never get lost in despair, to never become bitter, and to never hate.”

Streaming the film is free thanks to the sponsorship of the Iowa City-based Beloved Community Initiative, which describes its mission as “Dismantling racism through love in action. Creating justice with dignity and respect.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marches alongside leaders of the March on Washington in 1963. — photo via the U.S. Library of Congress

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