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Celebrating MLK Jr. Day

Monday, January 18—officially Martin Luther King Jr. Day—might be a great day off for the kids to sleep in after a week of exams at the high school, or to enjoy some winter family time in the snow. But we’re actually given this day off as a hard-won national holiday for several reasons: to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; to focus on the still-current issue of civil rights; to highlight nonviolence in promoting change; and to try out some volunteering and public service. And although celebrating MLK Jr. Day intentionally is a little trickier in 2021 with a global pandemic and social distancing and all, thanks to our new HCS Diversity Task Force, we found a few activities for any interested families (including ourselves) to consider doing in honor of MLK Jr. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we’d love it if you’d share any additional ideas!

• Listen to and discuss one of MLK’s speeches. There are a host of clips on YouTube, including his most famous “I have a Dream” speech, and here are 35 of MLK Jr.’s speeches on audio and video for free at learnoutloud.com.

• Calvin University is doing a virtual chapel and worship service with Michelle Loyd Paige, Calvin’s diversity and inclusion director.

Here are some MLK Day-related movies to watch with your kids on MLK Jr. weekend, besides Selma or “Our Friend, Martin,” and are broken down by age group.

Utilize a library, including Holland’s Herrick District Library resources to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. or African American history. If you are on Instagram, hereweeread is a great resource for kids’ books on diversity and inclusion, especially these six on Dr. King. A couple of books recommended from a definitive Christian perspective: Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity by Anthony J. Carter; Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America by Anthony B. Bradley

• Though this is a little trickier this year because of COVID-19, MLK Jr. Day is a great day to volunteer or perform a community service. Maple Avenue Ministries is sponsoring an MLK Jr. Blood Drive on Tuesday, January 19, at Maple Avenue Ministries. More info & sign up at mapleave.org/mlk-blood-drive.

Support Black-owned businesses, such as these Black-owned Restaurants in the area: Daddio’s Carry Outs, 567 College Ave, Holland, 616.594.5376 (Not open Sun. or Mon.); Forty Acres Soul Kitchen, 1059 Wealthy St. SE, GR; Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant, 4301 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, GR; Malamiah Juice Bar, 122 Oakes St. SW, Suite 110, GR. Or here’s a further list from WZZM of other Grand Rapids Black-owned restaurants.

Take a virtual tour of MLK memorials, the Civil Rights Museum, or the National Museum of African History & Culture, including a free virtual concert & celebration 4-5:30 pm on Mon., Jan. 18. Or try this Holland Museum free family event on Mon., Jan. 18, 10 am-5 pm: “How Would You Change the World?” It offers virtual resources, in-person activities, and MLK Activity Kits: www.hollandmuseum.org.