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Celebrating the Legacy of MLK Jr. – Maine Events and Opportunities

As the brisk winter air covers Maine, we find ourselves on the cusp of a significant day of remembrance and reflection – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Monday, January 15, 2024.

This annual observance honors the iconic civil rights leader and serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing journey toward equality and justice. In Maine, there are numerous ways to celebrate this day together in unity, understanding, and commitment to Dr. King’s legacy.

Participate in Community Events:

Maine’s communities unite to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day through various events and activities. Attend local workshops and lectures exploring Dr. King’s life and teachings. Engaging in communal gatherings provides an opportunity to connect with others committed to social justice.

Lewiston: Each year, Bates students, faculty, staff, local community members, and campus visitors gather to examine contemporary human issues through the lens of King’s work and ideas, broadly defined. It is a full day of thought, reflection, and aspiration for the entire community. The Bates MLK Day website offers helpful information about this year’s theme, Food Justice, and keynote speaker Bryant Terry, as well as a full schedule of events and resources to learn more about the history of MLK Day at Bates.

Bangor/Orono: Greater Bangor Area NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration – Join The Greater Bangor Area Branch NAACP and the University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library for this annual celebration of Dr. King and Civil Rights. Monday, January 15, 2024 (snow date: Saturday, January 20), 8:30 am –10:30 am (doors open at 8:00) at the Wells Conference Center, University of Maine, Orono. This year’s event will feature social worker and educator Dr. Judith Josiah-Martin, who will deliver the keynote address on Dr. King’s legacy, titled, “If not now, when?” The program will also include the presentation of the Dorothy Clarke Wilson Peace Writing Prize. Register here.

Educate and Reflect:
Take a moment to delve into Dr. King’s speeches, writings, and the historical context of the civil rights movement. Libraries, museums, and educational institutions often host exhibits or film screenings about this pivotal era in American history. Reflecting on the progress made and the challenges that persist can inspire personal growth and a renewed dedication to the principles of equality.

The BTS Center and the Maine Council of Churches in Portland will co-host an online public reading of an excerpt from the Autobiography of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This event will include a public reading featuring multiple voices interpreted in American Sign Language, music by songwriter and recording artist Joshua Long, and space for reflection. Register here.

You can watch films about Dr. King here on Kanopy.

Volunteer for a Cause:

One of the most impactful ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy is by giving back to the community. Volunteer your time at local charities, shelters, or community centers. Maine’s tight-knit communities provide ample opportunities to contribute to various causes, fostering a spirit of compassion and social responsibility.

Visit our Food Map to find your local pantry. Good Shepherd Food Bank’s network of partners is always looking for new volunteers.

For more volunteer opportunities on MLK day, go here.

Promote Diversity and Inclusion:
Take this day to engage in conversations about diversity and inclusion within your community. Organize discussions or workshops that encourage open dialogue about embracing differences and dismantling prejudices. Create an environment that values and celebrates the uniqueness of everyone.

Support Black-Owned Businesses:
Contribute to economic empowerment by supporting black-owned businesses in Maine. Explore local shops, restaurants, and services owned by individuals from diverse backgrounds. By consciously choosing to spend your dollars in this way, you actively contribute to the growth and success of these businesses. Find a new black-owned business to support here:

Artistic Expression:
Art has the power to convey messages that resonate deeply. Attend local performances, art exhibits, or concerts exploring equality, justice, and unity themes. Artistic expressions can inspire thought and provoke meaningful conversations.

The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine – CMTM is open to ALL GUESTS on Monday, January 15 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) from 9 am to 4 pm. Join CMTM in celebrating and honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Enjoy a weekend filled with arts, poetry, and storytelling programs that revolve around the themes of community and courage. CMTM is also pleased to welcome special guest Jordan Parks to MakerSpace from 10 am to 11:30 am. In celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. King, Jordan will be hosting a printmaking workshop exploring the themes of community, belonging, and our relationship with the world around us.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the state of Maine, let us not merely mark the occasion but actively engage in activities that honor the values Dr. King held dear. Through education, community involvement, and reflection, we can contribute to the ongoing journey towards a more just and inclusive society, ensuring that the dream Dr. King eloquently spoke of continues to thrive in the hearts and minds of Mainers for generations to come.