Where to honor and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend in Philly


African American Museum in Philadelphia 

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is offering virtual (and limited in-person) programming for their 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Celebration beginning on Jan.14. This Friday, Philadelphians can check out a special evening of “live poetry, music, energy and elevation” curated by award-winning artist, Lyrispect. The following day, those who don’t mind venturing out can pick up grab-and-go MLK Weekend Edition kits. As the news release states, the hands-on, art-making activities will draw inspiration from social justice messages in the words of MLK, as well as the works on display in AAMP’s galleries. Visiting families can also participate in the annual MLK Weekend Scavenger Hunt, which helps participants discover how generations of people have worked together to defend justice and equality.

Other virtual events include the “In the Name of Emmett Till” book discussion where author Robert Mayer and educator Rachel Nelson will discuss Mayer’s latest book; a screening of the Emmy-award winning HBO Documentary “A King in the Wilderness;” and a virtual transcribe-a-thon. In the latter, participants will transcribe Philadelphia congregations’ records from the 18th and 19th centuries. These records are meant to “illuminate topics including Philadelphia’s activities during the Civil War, the church’s role in enslaved and free African communities from the mid-1700s through the Civil War, and the rise of new religious denominations, such as the Episcopal Church and the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.” 

The weekend continues with the “Art + Activism, Then and Now Public Dialogue with Richard J. Watson and LaTreice Branson;” a youth service project – Dreamline Workshop; a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy through the lens of Black excellence and achievement with the African American Children’s Book Project; a voter registration drive; and then a virtual MLK memorial performance to wrap everything up. A full schedule of when each event is happening can be found online. 

701 Arch St., aampmuseum.org 

32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert

This Monday, the Philadelphia Orchestra will be performing its 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. As an added bonus, tickets to the concert — which takes place in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Cultural Campus — are free. The performance will feature works by Black composers including James Weldon Johnson, Valerie Coleman, Carlos Simon and Florence Price. The orchestra will be joined by 12-year-old violinist Amaryn Olmeda, winner of the 24th Annual Sphinx Competition, which recognizes and develops musical talent in the Black and Latinx communities, according to a news release.

Prior to the performance, visitors can also head to the Perelman Theater to check out a live episode of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “HearTOGETHER” podcast, with special guests Andrea Custis of the Urban League of Philadelphia, Michelle Cann of the Curtis Institute of Music, Fredara M. Hadley of the Juilliard School and Cassandra W. Jones of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church and Next Step Associates. Tickets for this event are also free and are available online. 

300 S. Broad St., philorch.org

The Betsy Ross House 

The Betsy Ross House is featuring free programming over MLK Day weekend. Rev. Richard Allen, one of early America’s most influential Black leaders and the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will be on-site from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. While there, visitors can meet with him and also hear short, interactive stories of the contributions Black Americans have made throughout American history from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday. 

239 Arch St., historicphiladelphia.org

MLK Day Drive-Thru Collection at American Water 

This weekend, American Water will be hosting a day of service for employees in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Day of Service will include a donation drive-thru (from 9 a.m. to noon) in partnership with the Upsilon Delta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The essential supplies collected will be donated to organizations — including the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, Bancroft and St. Joseph’s House — benefiting communities in Camden and around South Jersey. 

1 Water St., Camden, amwater.com

MLK Day Weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution

Events surrounding the commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. will kick off at the MoAR this Saturday. Those who head to the museum will be examining protest and patriotism in early America while exploring the continuing struggle for equality for all through performances, discovery carts and more. A deeper dive into programming includes the museum’s latest first-person theatrical performance, “Meet James Forten;” a discovery cart examining protest in early America; a community engagement wall; a performance of “We Shall Continue” by the Philadelphia Jazz Project (online); plus an online blog post covering Martin Luther Kin, Jr. and the promises of the American Revolution.

Finally, visitors can also check out a new painting the museum commissioned as part of their current special exhibition “Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War.” According to a news release, “Brave Men as Ever Fought” depicts young African American sailor James Forten — later a stalwart in anti-slavery and abolitionist movements — looking on as Black and Native American troops in the ranks of the Continental Army’s Rhode Island Regiment march past Independence Hall on their way to victory at Yorktown, Virginia. Forten later described those men as “brave Men as ever fought.” The painting was commissioned by the museum and funded by the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail of the National Park Service.

101 S. 3rd St., amrevmuseum.org

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