Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021 is Monday, January 18. The holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.( MLK Jr.). He was born Michael King Jr., but his father changed his name when we was 5 years old after a trip to Germany. His actual birthday is January 15, 1929. He would be 92 years old today.
Martin Luther King Jr. is known today for being an activist for civil rights. He was imprisoned many times and his “I have a dream” speech is familiar in most American households. He was ultimately assassinated in 1968, and the US government established this holiday in 1983.
Excerpt from the “I have a dream” speech, August 28, 1963 from the March on Washington:
…And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!…
Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. from The King Center and ways to be involved.
If you have time, please watch the two videos below with your family. The first is the actual “I have a dream speech” in its entirety. The second video is a summary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life work to share with your younger children.
Honoring MLK Jr. Day in Lake Country
Many schools in the area have off on MLK Jr. Day. Because this is a federal holiday all banks and post offices will be closed, too. If your children are off school, they can spend the day researching and learning more about Martin Luther King Jr. and the causes he fought for for civil rights, equity (which is different from equality), and social justice. The internet and books are great places to research, and there are local community events occurring, too. Some of the following events are geared toward adults, while others are geared toward children and families. We included the adult only programs, because we take a life-long learning approach to life and because it is important for parents to have a better grasp on understanding issues so they can properly discuss them age appropriately with their children.
Local MLK Jr. Events in the Lake Country Area:
- Register and attend the virtual History of African Americans in Wisconsin presentation through the Oconomowoc Public Library. (Ages 18 and up)
n Clayborn Benson will give a presentation via Zoom on Wisconsin’s African American History from the 1650s–1970s, covering the impact African Americans had on Wisconsin’s inception as a state, contributions made to the nation’s Civil Rights struggle, and how Wisconsin laws and policies shaped life for African Americans with an emphasis on voting rights and economic independence and quality housing.
- Benson is the founding Executive Director of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum
in Milwaukee, an award-winning photojournalist, and the producer of the documentary Black Communities.
- Registration required to receive Zoom link by email. Presentation will be January 14 from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
- Register and attend the virtual event through the Marcus Center: 37th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Celebration (All ages)
- January 17, 2021
- Details HERE.
- Register and attend the virtual event through the Bridges Library System:
Health Disparities and Race in the Time of COVID-19 (Ages 18 and up)
Join Dr. Damon Tweedy for a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day presentation examining health disparities and race in the time of COVID-19. Dr. Tweedy is the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine and is a professor at Duke University. He will discuss the topics of race and medicine as they intersect at the center of our national discussion during this historic pandemic.
This program will only be viewable LIVE at youtube.com/waukeshalibrary with no recording available afterward. For more information please call the Reference Desk at (262) 569-2193, ext. 212.
This presentation was made possible by the collaboration of fifteen public libraries in the Bridges Library System: Alice Baker, Brookfield, Butler, Delafield, Dwight Foster, Hartland, Jefferson, Muskego, New Berlin, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Town Hall, Watertown, Waukesha, and Whitewater.
- Register and attend the MLK Day Kid’s Summit on January 18 presented by i.c.stars.
- They will be hosting interactive sessions for kids and parents around social justice, global climate, and racial equality- with an emphasis on the power of technology as a tool for social change.
- Register HERE.
- Register and attend the virtual event through the Metropolitan Milwaukee YMCA: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
- This event will be from 9:00 am to 10:00 am.
- There will also be 4th Annual Youth Engaged MLK event, sponsored by Kohl’s, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
- Information on both events can be found HERE.
- Participate in one of the 4 events by Kids Impact Community
January 18, 9:30 to 10:30 am
January 18, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
January 19, 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
- January 20, 4:00 to 5:00 pm
- Register and attend the virtual event at Waukesha County Technical College, featuring Atlantic writer Clint Smith as keynote speaker. (Ages 18 and up)
- Smith will discuss how the history of slavery has shaped the contemporary landscape of inequality, and he will share what he has learned from visits to different historical sites throughout the country.
- WCTC’s MLK presentation is free and open to students, staff and the community; no registration is required. To participate in the online event on Tuesday, January 19 at 11:30 a.m. visit: https://wctc.zoom.us/j/93155253341.
- Register and attend the virtual event through the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, featuring Reggie Jackson. (Ages 18 and up)
- This discussion will focus on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for equitable wages and the work that still needs to be done.
- This discussion will also take a deeper look at how the United Way Diversity Leadership Society’s Reducing Barriers to Employment & Advancement initiative works to ensure everyone has access to permanent employment with a livable wage at a workplace where they are treated with dignity and have opportunities for advancement.
- To participate in this event on January 19, register HERE.
- Register and attend the virtual event through the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, featuring Deanna Singh: How to Talk to Children about Race.
- As parents, aunts, uncles, and mentors of young children, it is our responsibility to be racial advocates and properly educate our children about issues of race and racism. But, often we don’t know how.
- To participate in this event on January 28, register HERE.
If your schedule does not allow you to attend one of the events above, there are other ways to honor and remember the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Just starting the conversation in your home with your family is step one. If you don’t know where to start the conversation, having books on hand (I prefer physical books over e-books) is a great way to naturally begin a conversation. Books breed questions. Questions breed knowledge. The title of the book or images can lead children to ask questions and from questions, a healthy conversation of our history and how we got to where we are today collectively. If you don’t have books on hand, there are no shortage of current events from the past year to start a conversation. Remember to keep conversations age and child appropriate. Parents, you know your child best.
Find age appropriate resources HERE.
Find local parenting support resources HERE.
*Because this is a federal holiday all banks and post offices will be closed.