A segment of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jamesredd/Thinkstock)
While many schools and businesses will be closed for the Jan. 16 Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, it's not necessarily a day off. As the civil rights icon once put it, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?' " Read on for a sampling of the many events planned in and around Richmond to consider and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.
The city of Richmond encourages Monday to be a National Day of Service for all residents, and will host a recognition ceremony on the federal holiday. “The Struggle and the Dream” will be held at UMFS, 3900 W. Broad St., Dining Hall #11, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mayor Levar Stoney will deliver a keynote speech at the event.
Later in the day, Richmond city government will host a “service learning exercise,” including more than 100 volunteers spreading across the city to work on service projects such as tree planting at George Wythe High School and cleanup initiatives at Powhatan Hill Park, Gillies Creek, Highland Park, Bryan Park and the James River Park System. These events will take place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For more information on how to join these service projects and how to help, visit the city’s Neighbor to Neighbor project page.
The Byrd Theater is participating in the festivities by showing a series of movies centered around civil rights, race relations and Martin Luther King Jr. himself. “Race,” the 2016 film about Jesse Owens during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, will be the first showing in this series on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., with a moderated discussion held after the showing. This first event is sponsored by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities and HandsOn Greater Richmond, and will be free and open to the public. Later in the week, there are showings of “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” “Selma” and “Do The Right Thing,” all for a $5 admission fee.
University of Richmond hosts Interfaith Youth Corps founder Eboo Patel at a commencement event on the school's campus “as a time to reflect on what Dr. King's dream means today.” The event will feature Patel and university President Ronald Crutcher in a discussion of Dr. King’s message in 2017. Students can also participate in service projects, including making meals for the Ronald McDonald House charity, cleaning events in the East End Cemetery and many more community-based events. The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at UR will also host a walking tour of the historic Jackson Ward district downtown, including a tour of the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in the area. All events and times can be found on the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day page.
Also on Monday, Virginia Commonwealth University will hold its 31st annual candlelight vigil for Dr. King, beginning around 7 p.m. at the VCUarts Depot, 814 W. Broad St. This event will include a brief dialogue on King's legacy. Other events held by VCU throughout the week include a blood drive on Wednesday and Thursday, a keynote speech delivered by author and Morehouse College professor Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D. on Wednesday night, and service events held around the city on Saturday. More information
Another public service project scheduled for this upcoming holiday is the cleanup effort at the Evergreen Cemetery in the East End of Richmond. The event is sponsored by the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, and takes place from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. This site is where notable African Americans from Richmond are buried, including activist and businesswoman Maggie L. Walker, civil rights leader John Mitchell Jr., and preacher John Andrew Bowler. More information and registration
To encourage local community action, the nonprofit organization HandsOn Greater Richmond is also hosting many service events open to the public on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Most projects required advance registration, but there also "DIY" projects that families and other groups can complete independently, including making “Feel Better Bags” that will be donated through the ChildSavers program to children in need, as well as a local schoolsupply drive that will distribute supplies to Richmond schools throughout January. Visit handsonrva.org/mlkday for more information.