Events to Celebrate and Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy This MLK Day

An in-car rally, service opportunities, and more events this weekend

A statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the UT-Austin campus (Photo by Jana Birchum)

In lieu of the Austin Area Heritage Council’s annual march and day of service celebrating MLK Day, the organization will be hosting a socially distanced MLK Day In-Car Rally at St. James Missionary Baptist Church (3417 E. MLK) on Monday, Jan. 18, at 10:30am, to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

The rally – which Austinites are able to attend virtually via a Facebook livestream (www.fb.com/mlkcelebration) or in-person by signing up for a parking spot (registration required) – is one of several socially distanced or virtual events the Austin Area Heritage Council has planned for this weekend, including Saturday’s Youth Legacy Scholarship Reception for high school juniors and seniors, where recipients of the MLK Youth Scholarship Awards will be recognized.

District 1 City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Jeff Travillion, and State Representative Sheryl Cole are among several local civic leaders speaking at Monday’s program. Event organizers hope the rally will help Austinites feel connected to the continued work toward racial justice. In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, volunteer coordinator Para Agboga believes King’s legacy is more alive than ever. Agboga hopes that by remembering and honoring King’s legacy, people will take away from this weekend the ongoing importance of protesting and speaking out against injustice.

“We looked around the country and we saw there were millions of people around the country who marched for the rights of people of color, and that strikes such a heavy chord,” Agboga told the Chronicle. “Protesting and speaking out is part of the American fabric, and Dr. King understood that. We could not ignore the similarity – the truly American importance of being able to peacefully protest and be heard.” – Lilli Hime

Check out the below list for local events to celebrate and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy this weekend. – Katherine McNevins

MLK Youth Scholarship Awards The MLK Youth Scholarship Awards recognize youth in the community for their outstanding commitment and achievement, as well as inspire the next generation. Tune in to the virtual awards program to see the recipients of several scholarships. Sat., Jan. 16, 3-5pm. Online. www.mlkcelebration.com/celebration-events/youth-scholarship-awards.

National Day of Service In honor of MLK Day, the Biden-Harris Presidential Inaugural Committee is partnering with service leaders and orgs nationwide to organize safe volunteer events focusing on COVID-19 relief. Learn more and sign up to volunteer in the Austin community online. Mon., Jan. 18. Multiple locations. Registration required. www.bideninaugural.org/day-of-service.

United Way MLK Day of Service United Way for Greater Austin invites you to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by taking a self-guided walking tour through the city, taking a virtual tour of Dr. King's childhood home, listening to his "I Have a Dream" speech, and participating in an at-home activity. Then gather virtually at 10am Mon., Jan. 18, for a moment of community reflection led by Dr. Kazique Prince. Mon., Jan. 18. Virtual. www.unitedwayaustin.org/mlkday2021.

MLK Day Livestream and In-Car Rally A limited number of cars will be allowed at the in-car rally, but all are welcome to join in for the livestream. Although we can't gather to celebrate, we can share how we're honoring the day using the hashtag #AustinMLKDay and tagging the Austin Area Heritage Council's social media sites. Donations to Central Texas Food Bank in honor of MLK are encouraged as well. Mon., Jan. 18, 10:30am. Online and at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 3417 E. MLK. www.mlkcelebration.com.

MLK Celebration: Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Virtual Circles Austin Health Commons, the YMCA, and ACC present a series of guided Zoom conversations designed to help participants gain a deeper understanding of one another. Mon., Jan. 18, 2:30-5:15pm. Online. Donations encouraged. www.ahcandkarisha.eventbrite.com.

MLK Day Artist Appreciation Broadcast In lieu of their usual open mic for MLK Day, the Vortex is broadcasting a celebration of BIPOC talents this year, with donations going to the artists or to Austin Justice Coalition. Mon., Jan. 18, 8pm. www.fb.com/vortexrep.

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