In January 1986, President Ronald Reagan issued proclamation 5431 making the third Monday in January a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The proclamation begins thus: “This year marks the first observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. It is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. We rejoice because, in his short life, Dr. King, by his preaching, his example, and his leadership, helped to move us closer to the ideals on which America was founded. We reflect on his words and his works. Dr. King’s was truly a prophetic voice that reached out over the chasms of hostility, prejudice, ignorance, and fear to touch the conscience of America. He challenged us to make real the promise of America as a land of freedom, equality, opportunity, and brotherhood.”
King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, explains the meaning of the holiday as one that “celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.”
Much progress has taken place since Dr. King’s time, but the struggle continues. The curtailing of the Voting Rights Act; efforts at voter suppression; the rise of the radical right; activism by the Black Lives Matter movement; and a thicket of issues surrounding the veneration of the flag and the leaders of the failed insurgency of the Confederate States of America, all attest to work yet to be done before Dr. King’s vision of an America in which all have an equal voice in the political sphere and equal opportunity in the economic arena can be reached. Martin Luther King Jr. Day feels more relevant now than at any time in the last couple of decades.
Here in Tacoma, there is a full schedule of events at which folks can celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His life and his legacy can be memorialized by attending gatherings in which music, art and inspiring rhetoric are the order of the day. Participation in activities that do service in the community are another popular day of observing Dr. King’s legacy. All of it is geared to energizing us with the resolve to further the work that he started.
Following is a listing of the many King Day events that area residents can attend to celebrate one of our national heroes:
- MLK Weekend of Service:
Wapato Hills Park
Jan. 13, 9 a.m.
Wapato Hills Park, 6231 S. Wapato St., Tacoma
Join EarthCorps and the City of Tacoma as they continue the restoration of Wapato Hills Park. Volunteers will be working to remove Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry along the Southern Access Trail leading up to the Wetland Loop Trail.
EarthCorps supplies gloves, tools, water and snack bars. They will teach you everything you need to know about tool use, safety, forest health, and the importance of the work you will be doing. No experience necessary, just come ready to learn something new.
- City of Lakewood Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
Jan. 13, 10 a.m.
McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Lakewood
The City of Lakewood invites the public to honor and celebrate “The Dream Today” at its 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. This free public event is family-friendly and will include performances by the choirs of Tyee Park Elementary and Clover Park High School, the Little Church on the Prairie Bells Handbell Choir and YMCA dancers/The BareFoot Collective. Students from Hudtloff and Woodbrook Middle Schools will read poetry, local singer and actor LaNita Walters will sing the National Anthem and the Negro National Anthem and The Denny and Bill Little Big Band will provide the musical prelude. U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson, and Lakewood Councilmember Mary Moss will also offer remarks. This year’s keynote speaker is Michael Tuncap, who has worked in education and race relations at the local, state and federal levels.
- MLK Day of Service
Jan. 13, 10 a.m.
Tacoma Community House, 1314 S. L St., Tacoma
Join The Mission Continues and UW Tacoma Center for Service and Leadership (CSL) to give Tacoma Community House and its Hilltop home a facelift. Activities will include grounds maintenance, planting, demolition work to address safety concerns, trash pick-up, and general cleaning … plus build a lending library for the whole community to enjoy.
Tacoma Community House is a nationally-respected, community-based service center for immigrants, refugees, and long-time South Sound residents seeking enrichment and pathways to self-sufficiency. For 107 years, the nonprofit has helped countless individuals gain the skills they need to transition out of poverty, navigate a new culture, and find personal and professional success.
Info: firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 214-2117
- L.A. Theatreworks’ “The Mountaintop”
Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma
Winner of the prestigious Olivier Awards for Best New Play, “The Mountaintop” is rife with humor and political jabs, while giving us a glimpse at the human side of Martin Luther King Jr. Hours after his famed final speech, punctuated by the immortal line, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” the celebrated Reverend reveals his hopes, regrets, and fears, creating a masterful bridge between mortality and immortality. In 2018, America and the world marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., yet, struggles to resolve racial tension remain a challenge for communities everywhere.
Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Redeeming the Prophetic Vision
Jan. 14, 2:30 p.m.
Urban Grace, The Downtown Church, 902 Market St., Tacoma
Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision is an annual, all volunteer-organized, interfaith community event. It seeks to honor Dr. King’s radical call for peace and justice for all people by helping our community to shine the light of his vision on our current local, national, and global situation; re-imagine unity across difference; renew our shared commitment to the path of social justice; and reconnect with peace and justice activists and advocates across our community. This inspiring event is produced by The Conversation in partnership with Associated Ministries and Urban Grace Church.
- 2018 MLK Unity Breakfast
Jan. 15, 8-10:30 a.m.
University of Washington Tacoma Y Student Center, 1710 Market St., Tacoma
The 12th annual MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast will be held at the University Y Student Center. The theme for this year’s event is “Stand Up/Speak Out: Reflections on Service and Sacrifice.”
Roslyn Brock will deliver the keynote speech at this year’s breakfast. Brock is the youngest person and the fourth woman to chair the NAACP National Board of Directors. She has been an active member of the NAACP for nearly three decades. Brock founded the NAACP Leadership 500 Summit, a recruitment and training initiative to cultivate a new generation of civil rights leaders. Brock is currently the vice president of advocacy and government relations for Bon Secours Health Systems, Inc. In this role, she directs health care policy and reform with an emphasis on equity and social justice. Among her many honors, Brock has received the National Urban League’s Women of Power Award as well as the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Leadership Award.
The MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast has been a fixture on UW-Tacoma’s calendar since its inception in 2006. The event serves to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Each year a committee of faculty, students, staff and alumni organize the event around a theme central to Dr. King’s life. Stand Up/Speak Out continues this tradition by focusing on activism, its challenges and successes. An emphasis this year is on inspiring young people to take a leadership role and continue to push for positive social change.
Adults: $15; UW-Tacoma students $10; children under 10 $10; day of admission $20 (all)
- Lend a hand on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Caring
Jan. 15, 9 a.m.
Metro Parks Tacoma, Titlow, Point Defiance and Franklin Parks
If you have resolved to devote time to community endeavors, habitat conservation or just want to get some exercise, Metro Parks Tacoma has a couple of volunteer options scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Grab a pair of work gloves, dress for the weather and come out to either Titlow, Point Defiance or Franklin parks. You’ll join other volunteers on a three-hour mission to restore natural habitat and spruce things up a bit.
At Point Defiance, volunteer crews will spread mulch and rake flower beds. Plan to meet others near the duck pond, just inside the park’s Pearl Street entrance.
At Titlow, the plan is to remove Himalayan blackberry vines and other invasive plants. Plan to meet in the small gravel parking lot on the right side of Sixth Avenue. If you reach the spray grounds, you’ve gone too far.
At Franklin, crews will pick up litter, cut blackberry and remove ivy. Meet on the service road just off 12th Street.
Metro Parks will provide all necessary tools and materials.
- annual community March for MLK
Jan. 15, 9 a.m.
Bates Technical College, 1101 S. Yakima Ave., Tacoma
MLK’s legacy of service lives on in the annual March for MLK. Join college employees, students and countless community members to march to the city of Tacoma’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Marchers meet at 9 a.m. for refreshments at the college’s downtown campus cafeteria on South 11th Street and Yakima Avenue. At 10 a.m., the group begins marching to the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration, held at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. A shuttle will be available to return marchers to the downtown campus after the city’s celebration at 1 p.m.
- 3rd Annual Food
Sovereignty Day of Action
Jan. 15, 9 a.m.
Peace Community Center, 2106 S. Cushman, Tacoma
HUG will honor MLK’s vision of a beloved community. “The core value of the quest for Dr. King’s beloved community was agape love … love seeking to preserve and create community.”
Building on MLK’s vision of nonviolent actions for radical change, you’ll focus the day’s work connecting with others by doing a variety of activities — building new gardens, creating community art, starting seeds for the spring harvest, and more. This year there will also be a report given from a member’s recent trip to South Africa as part of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance’s Agroecology learning exchange. They will also be raising money for Sibahle Community Food Project in Soweto, South Africa. This is a multi-generational event and older kid friendly. There will be indoor activities in case of stormy weather.
- Pierce Conservation District Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
Jan. 15, 9 a.m.
S. Yakima Ave. and S. 46th St., Tacoma
If you are looking for a service project on Martin Luther King Day, please join in at one of the newest de-pave sites, the Yakima and Thompson Y in Tacoma. The site is looking great after one summer, but there is still work to do; activities include providing care to the trees and shrubs and adding a thick layer of wood chips to help sustain the plants through the winter and into the summer.
- City of Tacoma Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration
Jan. 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Greater Tacoma Convention Center, 1500 Commerce St., Tacoma
The 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recipient is Dr. Dexter Gordon, director of the Race & Pedagogy Institute at the University of Puget Sound. Dr. Gordon is a published author, professor and community advocate for social change. He demonstrates exemplary leadership that embodies the values of equity and inclusion and, for many years, has promoted and advocated for a campus environment and city that embraces racial and cultural differences.
This lifetime service award is presented each year at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration. It recognizes and encourages excellence in community service activities carried out by an individual, organization or group whose efforts reflect the essence of Dr. King’s teachings.
The featured keynote speaker will be Nate Bowling, 2014 recipient of the Milken Family Foundation’s National Educator Award, the 2016 Washington State Teacher of the Year, and currently teaches advanced placement courses at Lincoln High School in Tacoma.
Doors open at 10 a.m., Community Outreach Fair 10-11 a.m., main program 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- A day of Celebration & Healing
Jan. 15, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center,
734 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
Every King holiday has been a national “teach-in” on the values of nonviolence, including unconditional love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation, which are so desperately-needed to unify America.
Please join the Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center for a special celebration of healing, education and training in King’s philosophy and methods of nonviolent social change and conflict-reconciliation. TUPAC will be exploring liturgy, Pilates, ballet, African dances and much more.
- Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: What does Dr. King’s legacy mean to you?
Jan. 15, 2 p.m.
Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
Connect with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s story at the Washington State History Museum. View the Broadway Center’s live performance of “Eleven Days in the Life of Dr. King” in the museum’s auditorium (free). Learn about Dr. King’s 1961 visit to Washington state, and explore the museum with an activity guide to find out more about Washington’s civil rights and African American history. Admission is free for this special day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Lecture: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
Why Keep Dreaming?
Jan. 16, 6:30 p.m.
University of Puget Sound, Kilworth Chapel,
1500 N. 18th St., Tacoma
UPS welcomes the entire campus and Tacoma community to join in its 32nd annual campus celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The featured keynote speaker, Eddie Moore Jr., will present a speech that addresses not only the inspiring words of Dr. King — “We cannot turn back.” — but also his idea that we cannot be satisfied with injustice and inequality, and that his legacy is an inspiration to keep moving forward.
Moore has pursued and achieved success in academia, business, diversity, leadership and community service. In 1996, he started America and Moore LLC to provide comprehensive diversity, privilege and leadership trainings/workshops. Moore is recognized as one of the nation’s top speakers and educators. His interview with Wisconsin Public Radio won the 2015 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association’s Best Interview in Medium Market Radio and he is featured in the film “I’m not Racist … Am I?” Moore is the founder and program director for the White Privilege Conference (WPC). Under his direction and inclusive relationship model, the WPC has become one of the top national and international conferences for participants who want to move beyond dialogue and into action around issues of diversity, power, privilege and leadership. In 2014 Moore founded The Privilege Institute (TPI) which engages people in research, education, action and leadership through workshops, conferences, publications and strategic partnerships and relationships. Moore is co-founder of the online journal “Understanding and Dismantling Privilege,” co-editor of the books “Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Injustice: 15 Stories” and “The White Women’s Guide to Teaching Black Boys.” Now, in addition to full-time consulting, he serves as founder and president of TPI, and lives in Green Bay, Wisc. Moore received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in Education Leadership. His Ph.D. research is on black football players at Division III schools in the Midwest.
A reception will follow. This event is free and open to the public.
- “Diversity, Privilege, and Leadership: Are We Making Any Progress in the 21st Century?”
Jan. 17, noon to 1:30 p.m.
UPS Rotunda, 1500 N. 18th St., Tacoma
There will be an interactive workshop with Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. entitled “Diversity, Privilege, and Leadership: Are We Making Any Progress in the 21st Century?” in the rotunda.