Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day With These Metro Detroit Events

Participate in a parade, do a day of service with U-M, or watch streamed programs from Wayne State University, the Wright Museum, and more
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - wayne state
Poet and activist Caroline Randall Williams, pictured above, is this year’s featured guest at Wayne State University’s virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Day event // Photograph courtesy of Wayne State University

Martin Luther King Jr. Day takes place on Jan. 18 this year, and to commemorate the day, community organizations, educational institutions, and museums across the metro Detroit area are honoring the life of the civil rights leader with a lineup of virtual and (socially distanced) in-person events. Here’s a look at what’s happening.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Tribute 2021

Wayne State University’s annual tribute to King is taking place virtually this year. Kicking off at 1 p.m., the event features a Q&A session with poet, author, and activist Caroline Randall Williams, remarks from WSU President M. Roy Wilson, and a reading from poets with InsideOut poets. Jan. 18. No cost. Broadcasting on Comcast channel 900 and streaming at wayne.edu/live

MLK Week of Events

University of Michigan Dearborn, Flint, and Ann Arbor are hosting a lineup of events for faculty and students as well as the larger community. The week kicks off with the 28th annual U-M Dearborn MLK Day of Service and the University of Michigan 2021 MLK Keynote Lecture: Where do We Go From Here? The lecture features Gloria House, a professor, poet, essayist, and human rights activist, and Malik Yakini, co-founder and executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Network. Other events cover anti-racist organizing, community engagement, and cancel culture. Jan. 18-22. No cost. Online; umdearborn.edu

18th Annual Detroit MLK Day Virtual Rally & Cultural Program

Special guests at this virtual event, running from noon to 3 p.m., include Jesus Rodriguez Espinoza, the editor of Venezuelan news outlet the Orinoco Tribune, and a family member of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Wisconsin police last August. Members of Detroit Will Breathe are also being honored at the event for their work, and poet, educator, and community organizer Aurora Harris and musician Sarah Torres are coordinating the program’s cultural presentations. Jan. 18. No cost. Online streaming through Zoom, Facebook, and Youtube; facebook.com/events

Driving for Justice Parade

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. is organizing a parade to commemorate MLK Day. The event starts at 9:30 at Hope United Methodist Church and ends at Southfield Parks and Recreation. The parade is limited to 250 vehicles, and pre-registration (available here) is required. Portions of the parade will stream live online. Jan. 18. No cost. In-person at Hope Church, 26275 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; and online; hopumc.org

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Mass

The Archdiocese of Detroit is hosting its annual memorial mass for King at 11 a.m. on Jan. 18. Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, there is limited seating for the mass, so registration is required (available here). The event will also be live streamed for those who cannot attend in-person. Jan. 18. No cost. In-person at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 9844 Woodward Ave., Detroit; and online; cathedral.aod.org

MLK Service Day 2021

Along with its Monday mass, the Archdiocese of Detroit is asking youth ministries from across the area to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service on Saturday. Individual parishes are expected to mobilize hundreds of young people to serve their community either virtually or at socially distanced parish events. Jan. 16. No cost. Online and in-person; aod.org

MLK Streets: More Than a Name

The Black Historic Sites Committee and the Detroit Historical Society are coming together this MLK Day to offer a virtual event that covers how race and geography have played a role in naming streets after King. The event, which runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., includes a showing of the short film King Blvd and a panel discussion with Earl Hardy, the writer and producer of the film; Dr. Derek Alderman, cultural geographer and professor at the University of Tennessee; and Jamon Jordan, a local historian and founder of The Black Scroll Network. Jan. 18. No cost. Zoom event; detroithistorical.org.

Martin Luther King Jr. 2021 Celebration

We the People Speak: No Justice No Peace is the theme of Eastern Michigan University’s four-day celebration, which includes a theater performance, a student panel, and days of service. The university is also collaborating with The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to stage a keynote address on Jan. 18 by PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor. Jan. 15-18. Online; emich.edu

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is also hosting its own events from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on MLK Day. The museum, which will be open for in-person activities, is unveiling its new Martin Luther King virtual exhibitions and hosting digital screenings of the films The First Rainbow Coalition and Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement. Jan 18. No cost. In-person at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; and online; thewright.org

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