“Martin Luther King Jr.” by Long Pham | Courtesy of ArtsReach

Civil rights leader and activist Martin Luther King Jr. stood for many things, but taking a seat on the sidelines wasn’t one of them. As we celebrate the federal holiday dedicated to the legend on Monday, Jan. 21, we should make it a point to read some of his inspiring quotes and writings.

For example: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Or how about, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” And, possibly pertinent to today, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Several local organizations are hosting free events on Monday that tie in with the spirit of King. Here’s a roundup of some of them to help you get out and get inspired.

ArtsReach’s “Keepers of the Dream” — Sunday, Jan. 20

This annual event is a collaboration between the Kentucky Center’s ArtsReach organization, the Office of the Mayor and the River City Drum Corp. Along with music, performances and speeches, Mayor Greg Fischer will present the Mayor’s Freedom Award to Diane Porter, educator and JCPS Board Chair.

It’s being hosted this year by writer Tytianna Wells, founder of Honey Tree Publishing and author of the children’s book “Sweet Pea and Sugar Tea’s Country Family Adventures: A Collection of African-American Poems.” The ninth annual “Keepers of the Dream” runs from 5-7 p.m. on Sunday at the Brown Theatre.

Ali Center’s “I Have a Dream” Speech & Panel — Monday, Jan. 21

Part of a tradition at the Ali Center is to host screenings of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he made at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. The video will run every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it is free to attend, although if you want to see the exhibits, admission will still be required.

Following the 11 a.m. screening, members of the center’s youth programs will participate in a forum and will discuss how they are continuing on King’s life and legacy. Plus, if you attend the 11 a.m. screening, you might get a slice of pizza, courtesy of Papa John’s.

MLK Day @ UofL — Monday, Jan. 21

UofL is hosting two free events that the public is invited to attend.

First up, the university’s African American Theatre Program will give a performance using the theme “The Beauty of Diversity; the Courage to Serve.” It’ll include keynote speaker Daniel C. Shull, a JCPS Board member and senior pastor of the Burnett Avenue Baptist Church. And UofL’s Mordean Taylor-Archer will receive the annual Lift Every Voice Award. This event starts at 1 p.m. at The Playhouse, 1911 S. Third St.

Next, it’s UofL’s Engage Lead Serve Board, which is sponsoring the annual MLK Day of Service. You’re invited to join students as they perform community service around the city. The event includes food and a T-shirt.

If you’re interested, you should meet at 10 a.m. in the SAC Multipurpose Room to sign up for a location. There will be a speaker at 10:30 a.m., and you’ll be off to your site at 11 a.m. Organizers promise to return you safe and sound by 2 p.m.

Olmsted Parks’ MLK Day of Service Project: Boone Square — Monday, Jan. 21

Another opportunity to get out and get involved is with the Olmsted Parks Conservancy as they host the annual MLK Day of Service Project. This year the location is Boone Square, at 1935 Rowan St., one of the first parks Frederick Law Olmsted designed in Louisville.

Tasks include mulching, planting and general beautification, so be sure to dress for the weather and the work. Olmsted Parks will supply the gloves, tools and guidance. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Archdiocese of Louisville’s MLK Celebration — Monday, Jan. 21

The 34 annual Archdiocesan community-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be held at the Cathedral of the Assumption, located at 433 S. Fifth St. Organized by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministries, the event features guest speakers like Anita P. Baird and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, the church gospel choir and more. The theme is “From Maintenance to Mission.” This free service takes place at 10 a.m.

Old Louisville Brewery’s Movie Monday: MLK Day — Monday, Jan. 21

The neighborhood brewery is offering two ways to celebrate MLK Day. First up, there will be a group reading of “Waddie Welcome & the Beloved Community,” a book that often comes up this time of year, at 5:30 p.m. Later on Monday night, there will be a free screening of “In the Heat of the Night,” a 1967 film starring Sidney Poitier, at 7 p.m.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."