Arts & Entertainment » Choice Events

Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorations to stream and attend



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is Monday, and although the robust energy of live celebration and remembrance won’t be part of many of this year’s commemorations, multiple organizations will present virtual events inspired by the spirit of the day.

Commemorations of the holiday begin tonight at 7 p.m. with Stand Up, Step Up: 14th Annual MLK Celebration for the Henrietta & Rush Communities. This online event, co-sponsored by both municipalities and the Interracial Clergy Council of Henrietta & Rush, will feature the unveiling of the new community mural at the rec center, and lots of photos submitted by town residents to celebrate the diverse cultures of their community.

On Monday, Jan. 18, celebrations begin at 9 a.m. with the Greater Rochester MLK Jr. Commission’s 2021 MLK Day Virtual Community Celebration. This year’s keynote will be delivered by Reverend Mark Thompson, political analyst and MSNBC commentator, whose theme is timely: “No Lie Can Live Forever…The Truth is Marching on!” The event can be viewed on Facebook Live.

Nazareth College’s annual MLK Day Celebration will focus on antiracism in attitudes and activism. The event’s first segment, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will feature a talk by Naz alum Melanie West, entitled “Mobilizing the Mind: Advocacy, Activism, & Antiracism.” West, a current PhD candidate in ethnic studies at UC San Diego, brings the perspective of being Black and queer to approaches to allyship and responses to the rise in hate rhetoric and systemic racism. Later, at 6:30 p.m., Gabrielle Brannigan and Shane Wiegand will present a locally-focused talk, “Racist Policy & Resistance in Rochester.” Hard truths await, but with a salve of antiracist approaches to alter the trajectory of disenfranchisement in this city.

For the kids, The Strong Museum of Play (1 Manhattan Square) will host its Day of Compassion from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This in-person event features performances and activities that promote compassion, and features an appearance by Corduroy Bear, story time at 1 p.m., and a craft activity making “hugs” for loved ones during a time of social distance. The event is included with museum admission ($18, $23 with Butterfly Garden tickets), and requires reservations.

While not ostensibly an MLK event, Community Design Center Rochester’s Placemaking 101 Lecture Series kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at noon, with a conversation with former Mayor Bill Johnson. The talk will center on the continued work of transforming Rochester into “a community of equity and justice.” This event will serve as a prelude to the 2021 season, the CDCR’s 16th Annual Reshaping Rochester Lecture Series, Building a Just Community.

And finally, MLK commemorations continue through the month with RIT’s 39th annual Expressions of King’s Legacy, taking place at noon on Thursday, Jan. 28. The keynote will be delivered by Bakari Sellers, who served as a South Carolina legislator at age 22, then the youngest Black elected official in the U.S. His experience in law and lawmaking will inform his talk, “Education, Civil Rights, and Equality: Cornerstones for Our Future.” For more information on this virtual event, contact

Kate Stathis is CITY’s calendar editor. She can be reached at