We all know Martin Luther King, Jr. was a social activist who was one of the catalysts of the Civil Rights Movements that started during the middle of the 1950s. The recent killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner by white police officers have resurfaced a lot of those issues, sparking protests like “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” all across America — including Philly.
In short, this year’s MLK Day is more meaningful than ever. So if you missed earlier rallies, or were pissed about Eagles game traffic during the #PhillyDieIn, here’s your chance to remember what this is all about.
Monday marks the 20th Annual Greater Philadelphia MLK Day of Service. Be sure to dress warm if you’re volunteering because it’s going to be a brisk 39 degrees.
Three days of events
1. On Sunday, The Rotunda will be hosting what they call a #MLKMX Citywide Celebration at 7:00 p.m. Be there or be
square on social media.
2. Visit Philly as a list of lots of different events going on for MLK Day. Some highlights:
- Create your own “I Have a Dream” speech or a mini-mural featuring your favorite hero at the National Liberty Museum Monday. Beginning at 10 a.m., visitors are able to take a self-guided tour throughout the museum to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Visit The African American Museum between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday and check out a variety of cultural activities, like the Sister Cities GirlChoir and a break dance workshop presented by Hip Hop Fundamentals free of charge. Visitors can then cap their day off by taking a selfie with Phillies outfielder Ben Revere. C’mon, you know you wanna.
- Enjoy some music by going to see a performance from the Philadelphia Orchestra at Girard College Monday at 1:30 p.m. The concert will feature guest vocalists Laquita Mitchell and Rodrick Dixon, choirs from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and a reading of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech set to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.
3. As a part of the “Black Lives Matter” protest, an organization that calls itself “MLK D.A.R.E” (MLK Day of Action, Resistance, and Empowerment) is planning to execute the largest public demonstration since the controversy surrounding the Brown and Garner cases first became public. Approximately 10,000 demonstrators are expected to take to the streets Monday at 1:30 p.m. starting at School District Headquarters located at 440 N. Broad St. The march departs at 2 p.m., travels to City Hall and continues to Sixth and Market streets, where a concluding rally will take place at Independence Mall at 3:30 p.m. Keep up with the movement using #ReclaimMLK.
4. Actress Rosario Dawson and her partners from Studio One Eighty Nine will be at the University of Penn to talk about social justice issues on Tuesday. Studio One Eighty Nine calls itself a social enterprise that seek to “provide a platform to help promote and curate African and African-inspired content through an ecommerce shopping site, a supporting agency and an artisan produced fashion collection.”
Rosario herself is heavily involved in politics. In 2004, she co-founded a non-partisan organization, Voto Latino, which works raise the voices of Latino Millennials.
Thinking of skipping out on the whole Philly MLK Day of Service thing? The MLK365 campaign actually promotes year-round volunteer service and civic engagement. Stats from GlobalCitizen365 highlight some of the accomplishments of previous MLK Service Days done here in Philadelphia. Last year, more than 125,000 people in the region worked on 1,700 community projects. What are you doing to make Philly better?
Photos: Dr. Martin Luther King is pictured with Judge William H. Hastle (left) and Senator Joseph S. Clark (right) at a visit to Fellowship House on Girard Avenue in 1961. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin via Temple University Urban Archives.