Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 9 Ways to Honor His Legacy


Martin Luther King Jr. Day, observed this year on Jan. 18, became a national holiday in 1983, 25 years after the death of the civil rights leader. Because the arc of history has a few kinks in it, some states declined to celebrate it until 2000 or adopted names that dilute King’s import. (Alabama and Mississippi observe it in conjunction with Robert E. Lee Day, a symbolic swipe)

Nevertheless, King’s legacy endures, and in a moment of national racial reckoning, the holiday offers a timely opportunity to help it onward, through action and contemplation. Marches and parades, the typical forms of remembrance, are mostly on pause this year. But New Yorkers can commemorate King’s achievements with an assortment of events, including a few in-person and kid-friendly options.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music and Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric L. Adams, co-host this event on Monday at 11 a.m. It includes a keynote address from Alicia Garza, a founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, as well as music and spoken word performances from PJ Morton, Tarriona “Tank” Ball, Sing Harlem! and others. After streaming on, the event will be available on BAM’s YouTube and Vimeo channels. Online on Monday, BAM will also present William Greaves’s “Nationtime,” a documentary film of the National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Ind., online; and on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, it will host “Let Freedom Ring,” a looping video installation, organized by Larry Ossei-Mensah, that explores what freedom can and does mean.

Art on the Ave, which connects artists with storefront spaces, sponsors this exhibit that stretches across 11 blocks of Columbus Avenue through Jan. 31. Organized by Lisa DuBois, the founder of Harlem’s X Gallery, the public art gallery crawl includes work from more than 40 artists, many of them from underrepresented communities. Each work centers on the theme of healing. Parents and teachers can download educational materials, or scan QR codes as they walk to hear recorded artist statements.



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