Editorial: Philly institutions plan virtual MLK Day celebrations

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke those words in 1963 and today, more than 50 years later, that message is needed more than ever. As the country celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here in the City of Brotherly Love, there are plenty of ways to honor and embrace the timeless wisdom of the civil rights leader.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia

The AAMP will start its Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations with a dramatic reading of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” by Philadelphia actor Carlo Campbell (10 to 10:20 a.m.), followed by a Dreamline Workshop (10:30 to 11:15 a.m.) where participants will engage in creative activities aimed to inspire community and positive change. Those in the workshop will also create a Dream Banner that celebrates bravery, diversity and love. 

Additional programs include: MLK Mornings with AAMP; Transcribe-A-Thon; “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” an intimate account of U.S Rep. John Lewis’ life and legacy; Black Art and Visions of Freedom: MLK Day Keynote with Nicole Fleetwood; and Athletes and Activism: Baseball, Race and Social Justice, a virtual discussion featuring Phillies’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen, 2008 World Series champion Jimmy Rollins, hitting coach Milt Thompson, and MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds. 


Eastern State Penitentiary

This year’s celebration will be held virtually and features six 30-minute readings that commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Led by students, educators, activists and community members, participants can log onto Facebook or Zoom for one reading or attend all six. In between sessions, special guests will provide space for reflection as they share music, poetry and art.


National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is hosting various educational programs to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, ranging from virtual classes on the civil rights movement to an online performance of the “I Have a Dream” speech. There will also be activities and crafts for younger students and links to podcasts, essays and other educational materials available for high school and college students. 


Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

And of course, what better way to embrace the words of Dr. King than serving the community you love. The national King Day of Service started in Philadelphia in 1996 and has since grown to a nationwide movement to foster an understanding about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, there will be more than 100+ service projects happening throughout the Philadelphia area. Many will be held virtually this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, there are some in-person volunteer opportunities at local food pantries and parks as well.  



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