January 13, 2021

Many MLK Day Tributes Planned Despite Restrictions of Pandemic

VIRTUAL COMMEMORATIONS: Celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, January 18 is largely online this year. Several events are planned in the Princeton area. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Anne Levin

For the most part, gathering in person to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. is not an option in this time of pandemic. But that hasn’t prevented numerous organizations, locally and beyond, from planning virtual events on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Monday, January 18. King’s life and legacy are being celebrated with readings, lectures, sermons, panel discussions, art exhibits, and of course, community service. Many are listed here, and all are being held on January 18 unless otherwise indicated.

The Arts Council of Princeton commemorates King with a community story hour, a public art installation, and coloring books celebrating Black Princetonians. In collaboration with the Historical Society of Princeton and local historian Shirley Satterfield, the Arts Council has issued a limited-edition coloring book featuring the history of prominent Black residents of Princeton, including business owners, politicians, educators, and influential women. The book also covers King’s visits to the Princeton University campus in the 1960s. The coloring books are free but supplies are limited. Pick them up at 102 Witherspoon Street between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on January 18. The books are limited to two per household.

Beginning at 11 a.m., the organization is sponsoring a free, virtual community story hour, via Zoom. Jeff and Dean of jaZams will present some new books celebrating stories of social justice, civil rights, and equality for all people, accompanied by ukulele tunes. To reserve a spot, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.

The artist Rikrit Tiravanija has loaned UNTITLED 2017 (FEAR EATS THE SOUL) (WHITE FLAG) to the Arts Council, where it will be on view through the end of February. The flag is displayed as an effort to bring King’s life’s work to the forefront in downtown Princeton, and will be flown from the roof of the Council’s Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.

For more than three decades, the annual Multifaith Service co-sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action and the Princeton Clergy Association was hosted live at various houses of worship in Princeton. This year, the event paying tribute to King is online at 7 p.m. The Rev. Charles Boyer, founder and director of Salvation and Social Justice, and pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Woodbury, will preach. The service will also include faith leaders and music from a wide range of faith traditions including AME, Baha’i, Baptist, Christian Science, Jewish, Muslim, Presbyterian, Sikh, and United Church of Christ.

“We are thrilled to have such a prominent faith leader on social justice as our preacher this year, as well the most diverse group of faiths ever represented in the leadership of the service on the official holiday for Dr. King’s birthday,” said the Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Coalition for Peace Action, in a press release. “We will also have powerful and spiritually uplifting music. We strongly encourage interested people from all backgrounds to visit peacecoalition.org to find the information to participate in this major annual event.”

Not all efforts to honor King’s life and legacy are being held virtually. Students and faculty from Mercer County Community College (MCCC) will join together to help the needy in Trenton by collecting personal items including gloves, socks, and toiletries, for families served by The Rescue Mission of Trenton and WomanSpace. The collection will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. at MCCC’s James Kerney Campus at 102 North Broad Street in Trenton.

HomeFront holds a day of service allowing members of the community to contribute by coordinating a collection drive of urgently needed items, or participating in a virtual packing event of hygiene or welcome kits for families experiencing homelessness. Visit https://tinyurl.com/HomeFrontMLKDay to sign up.

A virtual MLK Day of Service is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. by West Windsor Arts Center in Princeton Junction. In partnership with the African American Parent Support Group, West Windsor Human Relations Council, and WW-P POC Advocacy, the centerpiece is a Virtual Panel Discussion and a Day of Service at 2 p.m. The event will be led by the WW-P POC Advocacy group. The organization is also sponsoring several service projects to assist Rise Community Services, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Send Hunger Packing WWP, and Jennye Stubblefield Senior Center in Trenton. These projects require advance preparation followed by delivery to the West Windsor Arts Center on January 18. Visit westwindsorarts.org for information and registration.

The 2021 Hopewell Gives Back MLK Day of Service is sponsoring projects to benefit four local nonprofits: Sourland Conservancy, I Support the Girls, Seeds to Sew International, and The Rescue Mission of Trenton. Volunteers will sign up for a project on the website, pick up project kits at Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 80 West Broad Street, Hopewell, on Saturday, January 16, complete the project at home, and return it to the church on January 18. For more information or to sign up visit https://hopewellgivesback.weebly.com.

The State of New Jersey Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission hosts the MLK Virtual Youth Conference from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium in Trenton. Titled “Youth, We Hear You,” the conference is aimed at helping young people identify their gifts, talents, and opportunities through a series of panels, workshops, networking, and other opportunities presented throughout the day. It will highlight the life and legacy of King in these challenging times, through sessions on “Justice Matters,” “Health Equity Matters,” and “Dr. King’s Global Impact” with consuls-general of India and Ghana, nations that King visited. Visit nj.gov/state/mlk.shtml.

The 40th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Virtual Scholarship Breakfast is a Zoom event being held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. by the Ivy League Educational Foundation. The theme is “40 Years: Celebrating, Reminiscing, and Engaging in Good Trouble,” with speaker the Rev. Michael C.R. Nabors, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church of Evanston, IL, and former pastor of Princeton’s First Baptist Church. He is currently the assistant pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton. The community organizations Loaves and Fishes and The Safe Haven Program will be recognized this year for their work in feeding those in need in the greater Trenton community. Admission is $40. Email mlkbreakfastads@gmail.com.