Whether or not you have the day off on Monday, there are many events in the coming days to help you celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day—from the 30th Annual MLK Celebration on Thursday to the 17th Annual Expansions MLK Unity Party on Sunday to a community Letter from Birmingham Jail reading and a rally and march on Monday. See them all below or on our complete MLK Day calendar.
1. Rebecca Walker
Rebecca Walker, an internationally sought-after speaker and the author of Black, White, and Jewish and Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, will lecture on present-day feminism, presented as part of UW's week-long Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming.
2. 30th Annual MLK Celebration
Remember the man for whom our county is named and keep his legacy alive at this official King County Equity & Social Justice event. The keynote speaker at this celebration will be Alexs Pate of the Innocent Classrooms program, which strives to help teachers reach students of color. Seattle Women's Steel Pan Project will bang out some rousing percussion.
3. City of Seattle presents MLK Unity Day
Iconic activist and author Angela Davis—known for her countercultural approach to Civil Rights activism and her feminist and Marxist philosophies—will speak about Martin Luther King Jr at this free community event. Advance tickets are sold out, but there will be a standby line at the door.
4. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
Honor the fight for equality with a wide choice of civic actions put together by the Corporation for National and Community Service: reforesting native plants in the city, working with Creative Justice to brainstorm ideas for helping juveniles in prison, giving out survival kits for people living on the streets, and more. The United Way of King County also encourages you to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a "day on" instead of a "day off" by volunteering at one of many projects they've compiled on their website, at locations including MLK Jr. Elementary School, the Queen Anne Food Bank, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Magnuson Park.
5. Eugene Robinson
Pulitzer Prize-winning politics, race, and culture writer Eugene Robinson will come to the University of Washington School of Law to speak in anticipation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Robinson (former assistant managing editor of The Washington Post) has written books including Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race, Last Dance in Havana: The Final Days of Fidel and the Start of the New Cuban Revolution, and Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America. He's also a fascinating figure to hear from just before inauguration day—in January alone, he wrote Washington Post articles with titles including "What Trump is really saying in his tweets: I’m weak," "Why does Trump go googly-eyed for Putin?" and "Trump’s America is not the only ‘real’ America."
6. The Fierce Urgency of Now
Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with keynote speaker Benjamin Hunter (musician, educator, and community organizer) and emcee Deborah Horne (KIRO 7) at Seattle Colleges' 44th annual event. They'll also have powerful gospel music performed by DaNell Daymon and Greater Works.
7. Annual Martin Luther King Jr. March
"Honor the Cause: 'First Class Citizenship for all Mankind'" will be the theme of this year's family-friendly march, led by young people.
8. We Have A Dream: A Restorative Justice Workshop
This community workshop (presented in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day) will explore issues related to the juvenile justice system, like disproportionate sentences for minority kids and the resulting socioeconomic disparity—and potential improvements including arts-based restorative justice and Peacemaking sentencing. Guest speakers include Judge Wesley Saint Clair (Chief Juvenile Judge, King County Superior Court), Saroeum Phoung (Peacemaking Circle Facilitator, CEO and Founder of PointOneNorth Consulting Consulting LLC), Jason Clark (Equity and Justice Advocate, King County Superior Court), and Marcus Stubblefield (Systems Integration Coordinator, King County Youth Service).
9. 17th Annual Expansions MLK Unity Party
In partnership with Gender Justice League, TeenTix, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and NOOR, KEXP presents the 17th annual Expansions MLK Unity Party, a night of music, dancing, and celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with live sets from notable KEXP DJs Riz, Masa, Alex, Kid Hops, and Sharlese of Audioasis.
10. Writers Resist: A Celebration of Free Speech
This is the first installment of an exciting new series called Writers Resist, which is dedicated to resisting inequity in all of its forms through language. The inaugural event aims to extol free speech, and everyone who you should be reading will be reading everyone who you should've already read. State-approved literary ambassadors including Washington State poet laureate Tod Marshall, Seattle civic poet Claudia Castro Luna, and youth poet laureate Angel Gardner will read selections from Martin Luther King Jr. (it IS his birthday), Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Paine, Angela Y. Davis, Susan Sontag, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, and others. Other notable writers will help out, too, including Stranger Genius Award finalist Robert Lashley, Jess Walter, Imani Sims, Elissa Washuta, G. Willow Wilson, Jane Wong, and the list goes on. There will be bar, in case you need any more fuel for your righteous flame. RICH SMITH
11. Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration in Tacoma
This event, presented in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, will begin with a community outreach fair at 10 am—then, at 11, they'll start their main program featuring keynote speaker Harold Moss (Tacoma's first African American Council Member and Mayor) as well as performances including music, dance, and poetry.
12. Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr & Mahatma Gandhi
Schoolchildren aged six through thirteen from the Living Wisdom School, joined by the Ananda choir, will lead this celebration of two campaigners for freedom, dignity, and equality.
13. Evrythng Creativ Presents "Something Special"
At SIFF, Evrythng Creativ will present digital shorts on the African diaspora, live performances by Cosmos the Band, Thunder Pawh, and others, poetry by Nikki Oliver, Troy Osaki, and Leija Farr, and fine art by A.O. Hamer.
14. Letter from Birmingham Jail: A Community Reading
Revisit a turning point in American civil rights history with a group reading of Martin Luther King’s 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail," and celebrate King's fiery call to action. Readers include King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Executive Director of Got Green Jill Mangaliman, Program Director at Puget Sound Sage Ubax Gardheere, artist Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, former executive director at the Washington Bus Toby Crittenden, and KEXP Street Sounds host Stasia Irons.
15. Martin Luther King Jr Rally and March
Take advantage of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a chance to discuss pressing issues and work towards change in your community. This event (which has generally been the largest and liveliest annual MLK Day event in Seattle) will begin at Garfield High School, and then transition to a rally and march that will continue on to the Federal Building downtown. Garfield High School will also have MLK Day workshops before the rally, and an opportunity fair afterwards.
16. MLK Prayer Breakfast of Seattle
Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil (of Seattle Pacific University) will lead a prayer and celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s spiritual influence.
17. NAAM MLK Jr. Day Celebration
Spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Northwest African American Museum exploring archives that include books about the Civil Rights Movement and speeches by Dr. King. They promise special activities, and food trucks will be posted up outside for midday sustenance.
18. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Seattle University
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, titled "The Fierce Urgency of Now," will feature keynote speaker Dr. Karen A. Johnson (co-founder and chairwoman of the Black Alliance of Thurston County, described as "a coalition of community members, lawmakers and stakeholder working to address policing and the use of deadly force in Washington State") as well as performances by Northwest Tap Connection and storyteller Sharon Nyree Williams.
19. Conversations for Health Equity
Learn about how health equity fits into the fight for social justice at this day-long workshop presented by the UW School of Nursing and UW Medicine Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. There will be presentations by Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic medical director Dr. Ben Danielson and ambitious and lovable State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu—plus community discussions and self-care activities including guided meditation and stress-reduction projects.