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Arlington To Celebrate MLK Day Virtually This Year

Arlington County’s annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is moving online this year, forgoing all in-person experiences due to COVID-19.

This 52-year tradition was first organized in 1969, about ten months after King’s assassination, by local community members and county staff.

This year’s edition honoring the civil rights leader life and legacy will be held on Sunday, January 17 at 5 p.m. It will include a collection of online performances, music, spoken word, and dialogue that participants will be able to select from.

The tribute is being produced in partnership with Encore Stage & Studio.

All videos and content will go live at 5 p.m on the event’s website, but will continue to be available on the site into the coming months.

In addition, Volunteer Arlington’s annual MLK Day of Service will also be online this year. On Monday, January 18, starting at 9:30 a.m., residents can participate in 12 different service opportunities, engage in volunteer trainings, or learn more about their community.

There will also be collection sites for the Arlington Food Assistance Center outside of eleven community and fitness centers.

The current schedule of programming for Arlington’s MLK Day tribute is below:

At 5 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 17, visit the MLK Tribute webpage for a dynamic experience that allows the user to select the content they wish to view. The content will remain online for the coming months.

Specific program elements will include content sections with videos from past MLK Tributes and never-before-seen works:

A video compilation highlighting clips of music, dance, spoken word and dialogue from recent MLK Tributes, including:

  • Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir’s renditions of The Best Is Yet to Come and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
  • Original work by spoken word artist Kim B. Miller, Your Calling
  • Motherless Child and I’ll Rise Up, performed by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Ensemble
  • Scene from the 51st MLK Tribute, performed by actor Deshawn Harris (as MLK) and Yancy Langston (voice of Benjamin Mays)
  • Arlington native Joy Gardner solo rendition of A Change is Gonna Come
  • Remarks from Arlington resident Joan Mulholland, activist and educator
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing, produced by Balm in Gilead, Inc.

Specific Music Options

  • I’ve Been Buked and Scorned, soloist James Gibson
  • I Know I’ve Been Changed, soloist Karen D. Archer
  • You’re All I Need To Get By, duet with Duke Ellington School of the Arts students Kianna Kelly-Futch and Kyree Allen
  • Is My Living in Vain performed by local quartet The Four
  • The Wall Between Us, performed by Kimberly D. Gordon and written by Anne Smith
  • Arlington native Joy Gardner solo rendition of A Change is Gonna Come

Specific Dance Options

  • Chains, performed by Worship Without Words
  • Precious Lord Take My Hand and Glory, performed by the Inspire Arts Collective
  • If I Could, performed by Kailah Doles
  • Motherless Child and I’ll Rise Up, performed by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Ensemble

Specific Spoken Word Options

  • New original work from spoken word artist Kim B. Miller
  • Reflections from Encore Stage & Studio students
  • Original work by spoken word artist Kim B. Miller, Break the Chains
  • Original work, Stand, by Outspoken Poetress Audrey Perkins

Other options include historical footage and a presentation by Samia Byrd, Chief Race and Equity Officer for Arlington County.

About the Program

Arlington’s first tribute to Dr. King was in 1969, the year after his assassination. The goal of this program is to bring people together (virtually or in-person) to support the community’s vision of social justice and community. This year’s program is produced in partnership with Encore Stage & Studio.

Virtual Day of Service

Volunteer Arlington’s annual MLK Day of Service program has also pivoted to be online. On Mon., Jan. 18, from 9:30 a.m.-noon. Online volunteer opportunities include service projects, advocacy panels and volunteer trainings. Learn more and register by Thurs., Jan. 14. by visiting https://volunteer.leadercenter.org/mlk-day-service.

Food Donation Collection

Food donations to benefit Arlington Food Assistance Center clients will be collected outside at the centers below from Jan. 15-18.

Learn more about the 2021 MLK Tribute event at https://parks.arlingtonva.us/mlk-tribute/

Photo via Adam Fagen/Flickr

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