Events abound in Tacoma to honor, celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tacoma and Pierce County residents will have many opportunities to mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this month. Here is a look at some upcoming events.

CITY OF TACOMA

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” The City of Tacoma’s signature event – the 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration – seeks to build on that message of service and encourages the entire community to join together to celebrate on Mon., Jan. 19, 2015, as a day on, not a day off.

The event will take place at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, located at 1500 Broadway, in downtown Tacoma. It is expected to draw roughly 2,000 to 3,000 adults and children. Doors will open at 10 a.m. and the event will start at 11 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food items for the MLK Food Drive benefiting Emergency Food Network.

The event will include a performance of “11 Days in the Life of Dr. King,” presented by the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. “Eleven Days” chronicles Dr. King’s life and legacy through spoken word vignettes, dance, shadow play and historic images. It focuses on Dr. King’s relationship with communities, how he challenged and changed our nation, and his message to honor the dignity and rights of every person.

Melannie Denise Cunningham will be this year’s keynote speaker. Ms. Cunningham has lived in Tacoma and Pierce County for 42 years, and her career spans several industries including federal, city, and state government; non-profit; radio; television; higher education; and entrepreneurship. She is a strategic thinker and a person who always brings a fresh perspective and positive attitude to any situation or environment.

In addition to free holiday on-street parking and free parking at Freighthouse Square, located at 2501 E. D St., which is easily accessible via LINK light rail from the Convention Center stop located directly in front of the event venue, there will also be signage and personnel directing event attendees to designated complimentary parking stalls that will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.

The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration program is spearheaded by the Tacoma City Council-appointed City Events and Recognition Committee comprised of local community leaders from a broad array of backgrounds and areas of expertise. The City Events and Recognition Committee serves as an advisory and action committee on matters pertaining to City-hosted events and special recognition programs. Members are responsible for planning, reviewing and evaluating events, engaging the community in its fundraising efforts, and soliciting corporate and private sponsorships to leverage funds for City-hosted events, such as the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration.

The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration is also covered and aired on TV Tacoma, which is carried on both the Click! and Comcast Cable systems. On Click!, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 within Tacoma City limits and in Pierce County, with the exception of University Place, where TV Tacoma can be found on Channel 21. On Comcast, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 within Tacoma City limits and on Channel 21 in Pierce County. TV Tacoma is not carried on the Comcast system in University Place, but is accessible anywhere on the Internet.

More information is available online here.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON TACOMA

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The University of Washington Tacoma’s 9th Annual MLK Unity Breakfast will be held on Mon., Jan. 19, to recognize and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and his historic civic leadership that inspired a nation to strive for equality. This gathering honors the message of Dr. King and the progress he continues to inspire.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To recognize this important event in the civil rights movement – the landmark Supreme Court decision that desegregated public education – the organizing committee has invited Fredricka Whitfield to give the keynote address at this year’s MLK Unity Breakfast. Whitfield is a national news anchor for CNN and has reported from all over the world including the Persian Gulf region during the wars, Beijing and London for the Olympics. Prior to CNN, she was a correspondent for NBC Nightly News, The Today Show and Dateline NBC, covering stories including the highly contested 2000 presidential race. In her nearly three-decades-long career, Whitfield has garnered multiple awards and honors for her broadcasting.

The Unity Breakfast was established by the Black Student Union to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, and inspire members of the campus community to continue to work to make his vision of an equitable society a reality. The program recognizes students, faculty, and community members for outstanding service to the community through the Dream Awards which are presented during the program. The breakfast is planned with an inclusion of area youth and strives to provide opportunities for service and reflection through the Week of Service events.

The breakfast will also feature performances by local talent. Specific performers to be announced.

The University of Washington Tacoma’s 9th Annual MLK Unity Breakfast will be held on Mon., Jan. 19, between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., at the University Y, located at 1710 Market St., in downtown Tacoma. More information about the event is available online here and here.

BATES TECHNICAL COLLEGE

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Bates Technical College will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a “Living Voices” performance. Attendees will hear the story of a young African American student growing up in a small town in Mississippi on the brink of the American Civil Rights movement, and watch as the performer brings to life the issues of civil rights at that time, as well as helps you understand how the fight against prejudice has shaped our history. The event will be held on Tues., Jan. 13, between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Bates Technical College South Campus Auditorium, located at 2201 S. 78th St., in Tacoma. Students can enjoy a one-dollar lunch special (three dollars for the general public). More information is available online here.

One week later, Bates Technical College will participate in a march from the downtown Tacoma campus, located at 1101 S. Yakima Ave., to the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. The event will be held on Mon., Jan. 19, and begins at 8:30 a.m. with refreshments in the cafeteria, followed by the march at 9 a.m. Attendees will arrive at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center by 11 a.m. for the City of Tacoma’s 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration. More information is available online here.

WASHINGTON STATE HISTORY MUSEUM

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The Washington State History Museum is offering free admission to all visitors on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as well as a program encouraging the discussion about how diversity and community change are communicated through children’s literature, a community photo project, and a food drive.

Visitors are invited to tour exhibits and attend a panel discussion titled “Diversity and Changemaking in Children’s Literature,” which includes children’s book authors, illustrators, and librarians discussing the themes of diversity and community change as they are portrayed in children’s stories. Visitors are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will be given to the Emergency Food Network. Visitors are also asked to bring a picture of something that exemplifies changemaking in the community, accompanied by a one-two paragraph explanation. Images and their captions will be posted on the Community Wall, encouraging open discussion. If you can’t visit the museum that day, the wall will be on view for a week or you can send your images and captions to schoolprograms@wshs.wa.gov so staff can post them for you.

The Washington State History museum is located at 1911 Pacific Ave. The museum will be open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

More information is available online here.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. events and activities in Tacoma, click on the following links: