Celebrate MLK Day in Evanston

Unity. Joy. Gratitude. These are just a few of the words that can be used to describe the meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which commemorates the life of the civil rights leader and Baptist minister. King’s work to end racial discrimination in the U.S. continues to be celebrated across the country, and especially here in Evanston. The RoundTable has rounded up some exciting and educational ways to celebrate this federal holiday.

Forest preserves service day

Kick off the MLK Day holiday weekend with an act of service. Volunteer with the Izaak Walton League-Elgin Chapter to remove brush around the pond at Rolling Knolls using loppers and bow saws. Cook County Board and Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall, and local elected and community officials will greet and share remarks with volunteers at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve. There will be a bonfire and hot beverages to keep volunteers warm. On MLK Day, the public also can join a litter cleanup at forest preserves throughout Cook County.

The birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated as a federal holiday. Schools, banks and government offices will be closed and there will be no mail delivery or trash pickup. Credit: Library of Congress

Free MLK concert

Join the Music Institute of Chicago and the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre at Nichols Concert Hall for a free concert in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at 3 pm on Sunday, Jan. 15. Mayor Daniel Biss and Evanston Reparations Committee Member Claire McFarland Barber will speak on the city’s reparations program. Tim Rhoze, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre Artistic Director, and the Music Institute have co-curated a list of award winning musicians and artists. Music Institute faculty will perform the world premiere of a A Stone of Hope (Martin’s Song) by Ephraim Champion. A visual art exhibition, curated by artist Fran Joy, will line the walls of the Nichols Concert Hall lobby. There will also be musical performances by a violinist from Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, Ravinia’s Reach Teach Play program, Evanston Dance Ensemble and T.E. & Company (Tricia Edwards) of Faith Temple Church of God in Christ. Visit this link to reserve your seat.

“Evanston has long strived to live up to Dr. King’s legacy of equality, fairness, and peace, advancing groundbreaking social justice initiatives and becoming the first city in the nation to fund a local reparations program,” Biss said in a news release from the Music Institute of Chicago. “I can think of no better way to honor Dr. King than gathering together with our diverse cultural arts organizations to share, celebrate, and inspire.”

Library celebrates King’s legacy

The Evanston Public Library plans several ways to learn about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights legacy from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. Jan. 16.

Families can watch short films “Martin’s Big Words” and “March On!,” do a craft, and listen to a stirring segment of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, presented by the Rev. Eddie Reeves. “Martin’s Big Words” will screen at 1:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. “March On!” will show at 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Also, teens can participate in a service event at the library; from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 16 young people can help create reusable sanitary pads for the Girls 4 Girls Ghana organization.

Finally, the library is also hosting Dedicated to the Dream conversations, a series of kid-friendly experiences around race and culture. Workshops are scheduled for 3:30 to 6 p.m. Jan. 21 and 5:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 at the library.

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