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Because of COVID-19, MLK Jr. celebrations go Online

By La Prensa Staff

In TOLEDO, the traditional MLK Unity Day celebration won’t be held in-person at the University of Toledo this year, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to force large gatherings to be held online instead. But that has presented an opportunity for a drastically different form of celebrating at a crucial time in U.S. history.


UT’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity is joining forces with the City of Toledo’s all-volunteer Human Relations Commission to organize this year’s event, to be held Monday, January 18, 2021, 10 a.m., for a virtual celebration to be broadcast via Facebook Live. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this collaboration.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “I’m Still Here,” which mirrors a New York Times bestseller written by this year’s keynote speaker Austin Channing Brown: I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.

Brown is a speaker, writer and activist, whose work has been featured prominently in numerous high profile media outlets as she highlights the ongoing realities of race in the 21st century, along with the everyday happenings that allow racism to survive. During her MLK address, Brown is expected to offer her unique perspective on the thoughts, actions and attitudes needed to help Blackness shine in today’s world.

The MLK Unity Day celebration is usually an uplifting ceremony filled with songs and speeches. Last year’s event featured a youth-oriented service project for the first time. However, this year’s virtual version may strike a deeper emotional chord with the audience, as the speaker addresses some hard truths about racism that morphed into mass protests and community conversations during a tumultuous and divisive 2020.

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a world where people would be evaluated not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, there is growing sentiment that his vision for America has yet to be realized—but change is coming as a result of the events of last year.

Brown is also expected to offer hope for Dr. King’s vision and help the audience recognize there remains the possibility of racial justice in organizations and communities. Whether public or private, there are tough conversations happening across Toledo within groups, government organizations, and the greater community about institutional racism and disproportionality.

The MLK Unity Day celebration can be accessed online via facebook.com/cityoftoledo.

More information about the event can be found at the UT website: www.utoledo.edu/mlk.

There also will be “community read” events hosted by local groups to read and discuss Ms. Brown’s book I’m Still Here. Dates, times, and links are as follows: OH Stand: 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021; YWCA of Northwest Ohio: 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17; Women of Toledo: 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20; and Toledo-Lucas County Public Library: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.

In CLEVELAND, Tri-C hosts Virtual Dr. King Celebration on Jan. 17. The 44th annual celebration begins at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The online remembrance will feature an assortment of musical performances as well as scholarship presentations and student speeches honoring the civil rights leader. Visit www.tri-c.edu/MLK2021 to register for the free event.

The Tri-C celebration is the longest-running MLK event hosted in Cleveland. The tradition began in 1977, six years before the federal government designated a day to honor King. “Cuyahoga Community College understood early on the importance of honoring Dr. King’s dream of civil rights and racial harmony,” Tri-C President Alex Johnson said. “We come together in his memory to reflect on the power of collective action in fighting injustice.”

Musical selections during the prerecorded program will feature the Tri-C Vocal Arts Youth Choir, The Cleveland Orchestra’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Chorus, the Tri-C Orchestra, and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra in residence at the College.

Speeches will be delivered by Kenzie Brown of Olmsted Township and Steve Primeau of Parma, students from Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy.

A dozen Tri-C students will be awarded scholarships from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Scholarship Fund. The Cuyahoga Community College Foundation established the fund in 1991 with support from the Cleveland Teachers Union and other generous donors.

ALSO IN CLEVELAND, the Cleveland Orchestra's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will take place, virtually of course, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “While it is sadly not possible for all of us to gather at Severance Hall for this year’s concert, The Cleveland Orchestra is committed to continuing the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration into its 41st year,” said André Gremillet, President & CEO of the orchestra.

Gremillet said the orchestra will offer free video performances through the Adella streaming service and on social media networks, in addition to concerts aired on TV and radio via a partnership with ideastream.

“This year’s celebration highlights the work of Black composers George Walker, Florence Price, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Cleveland native Leslie Adams in new and recent video recordings performed by members of The Cleveland Orchestra” said Mark Williams, chief artistic officer.

Members of the Cleveland Orchestra will share performances of Walker's, Price's, Perkinson's and Adams' pieces on social media. Those performances will begin being posted on social media starting Jan. 18, 2021.

On Adella, the orchestra will stream its 2018 MLK Celebration concert. The concert will be available, for free, from Jan. 14 to to April 14, 2021. That concert featured classical selections by Beethoven, Respighi, and George Walker, as well as traditional hymns and spirituals such as “Down by the Riverside,” “Precious Lord,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

The 2018 MLK Celebration Concert will also air on WVIZ/PBS on Jan. 17 at 4 p.m. and Jan. 18 at 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. The 2019 concert will air on 90.3 WCPN and ideastream.org on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. The 2020 concert will air on WCLV on 104.9 and ideastream on Jan. 18 at 8 p.m.

ALSO IN CLEVELAND, CPL partners with WOIO 19News to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cleveland Public Library is partnering with WOIO 19News to broadcast its 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration. There are three opportunities to watch:




Sunday, January 17

WUAB Channel 43

7:00 p.m.

Monday, January 18

WOIO Channel 19

9:00 a.m.

Monday, January 18

WUAB Channel 43

11:00 a.m.

In COLUMBUS, Join the 36th Annual Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration virtually on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at 11:45 a.m. Typically held at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus, this year’s event was prerecorded and can be viewed at das.ohio.gov/mlk.

The Ohio MLK Holiday Commission will recognize the winners of the 2021 MLK Awards, that honor Ohioans for their efforts to advance nonviolent social change. 

A highlight of the event is the student speakers who took first place in their respective age divisions at the annual Statewide MLK Youth Oratorical Contest, which is also sponsored by the commission. Although the 2020 contest was canceled, the prerecorded event will feature videos of several students who competed in regional contests and had advanced to the statewide competition level.



Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/13/21 08:51:44 -0800.




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