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MLK Day 2021

Remembering and Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2021

"Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction."

Martin Luther King, Jr. "The Purpose of Education," Morehouse College, 1948

The above quote comes from "The Purpose of Education" written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sometime during his junior year at Morehouse College. Writing in the campus newspaper, the Maroon Tiger, King argues that education has both a utilitarian and a moral function. This essay explores the dual function of education. According to King, education must "discipline the mind" and orient human life around a set of morals. Without this latter component, King warns, education is "a ship without a compass.

Learn more and read the full article HERE.

King offers a warning to educators who seek only to impart knowledge and thinking skills but fail to cultivate compassion and integrity. Aligning to standards, promoting growth mindset and ensuring all children are performing well academically is important.

However, Dr. King would suggest we commit ourselves to creating learning environments that challenge students to genuinely care for each other in addition to critical thinking. Our students should leave our classrooms with a conviction to fulfill their moral responsibility of seeking the betterment of all persons in this world. It is my challenge to teachers to create an environment of learning that not only celebrates academic achievers but also highlights individuals who make morally upright decisions for the good of others.

As we seek to close the achievement gap, as educators, we must ensure that we are not only cultivating in our students the mind to learn, but also the heart to love and serve their neighbors.

— Candace Obadina, MTR Alumna and Founding MTR Camp Director | Memphis Teacher Residency

As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther, King Jr. in the year 2021, it is important, and even critical, that we move beyond just the recognizable quotes of his famous "I Have a Dream" address and those that bring us the comfort of unity, and dig deeper into who Dr. King was as a person and as an activist.

His fame, his influence, and his legacy were not established overnight. So, this year, take some time and dig deeper and expand your perspective, your knowledge, and what you think you know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Maybe start with The Story of Marin Luther King, Jr. as told by Kid President. Or, Social Media King: 5 Facts that Won’t Make A Meme from Julian S. Newman, Founder, and CEO of Culture Creative and GRCS Consultant.

Here are ways to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy, whether you want to commit to a day of service or learn about the history of the civil rights movement.


Celebration Cinema Online Movie and Conversations: MLK/FBI: Sunday, January 24, 2021, 4:00 pm — 5:10 pm. Register for an ONLINE movie conversation presented by Celebration Cinema and hosted by Julian S. Newman, Founder, and CEO of Culture Creative (and GRCS Consultant), about this thought-provoking film. An exclusive Zoom invitation will be shared prior to the event. To register, click here.

Grand Rapids Community Celebration. Sponsored by Grand Valley State University, Davenport University, and Grand Rapids Community College, the celebration will feature a virtual address from Yamiche Alcindor, award-winning journalist and White House correspondent for PBS Newshour. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Alcindor has written about race and politics, how President Donald Trump’s policies have affected working-class families, and how police killings impact children and communities. She also reported on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and the legacy of President Barack Obama. The event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.

Calvin University. As part of its January Series, Calvin University is hosting a virtual lecture by Jemar Tisby, the author of “The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism.” He is the author, speaker, and president of The Witness: A Black Christian collective, “where he writes about race, religion, and culture,” according to Calvin. The event runs from 12:30 pm. to 1:30 pm., and is free and open to the public. To watch the event, click here.

Ferris State University. Ferris State University is hosting a virtual address by Dr. Steve Perry, a motivational speaker, and educator. The event runs from 5:00 pm. to 6:00 pm., and is free and open to the public. To view the address, click here.


National Day of Service, AmeriCorps is collaborating with the Presidential Inaugural Committee on the MLK National Day of Service. (

Hunger Free America, a national research and advocacy organization, will have an “M.L.K. Serve-a-Thon” on January 18 and 19. In a series of virtual workshops, its partner agencies will discuss how food insecurity intersects with other social issues. They will also lead volunteering projects that can be done from home, like phone banking and raising awareness on social media. (

Hands-on Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes civic engagement efforts, lists in-person activities across Atlanta — Dr. King’s hometown — on its website. It also offers virtual suggestions, such as Civic Dinners, a community engagement platform where people can host or attend virtual conversations under topics like “bridging the racial divide” and “grief and gratitude. (

L.A. Works creates community service projects in the greater Los Angeles area. On January 18, its website will host family-friendly virtual exhibitions of the 1963 March on Washington — created through the video game Minecraft. It’s also hosting online workshops and volunteering events focusing on how race affects homelessness, food insecurity, and criminal justice. (

The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington is hosting a social justice-themed virtual concert by the jazz bassist and composer Christian McBride and students from the Juilliard School. Watch on January 18 at 4:00 pm. Eastern. Tickets are free, but registration is recommended. (

The King Center in Atlanta wraps up its weeklong observance of the holiday on Jan. 18 with the Beloved Community Commemorative Service, featuring Bishop T.D. Jakes. Stream it at 10:30 am. Eastern on the center’s website or on Facebook Watch, or tune in on Fox 5 Atlanta. (

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, N.C., will host a daylong, online celebration on Jan. 18  that includes an aural history tour, a panel discussion, and more. The event, which starts at 10:30 am. Eastern, is free, but registration is required. (

The Art Institute of Chicago is hosting an online talk at 3:00 pm. Eastern on Jan. 20 that will touch on justice, resistance, and faith, inspired by the museum’s collection and Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a landmark 1963 document Dr. King wrote while in solitary confinement. Registration for the event is required. (

Dr. King studied at Morehouse College in Atlanta and the school is commemorating his legacy with a series of events, starting with a virtual forum with Lewis V. Baldwin, a professor emeritus of religious studies at Vanderbilt University, on Jan. 21 at 11:00 am. Eastern. Stream it on the college’s YouTube channel. (

List ideas from the New York Times: How to Celebrate Martin Luther King’s Birthday in 2021.

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