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Every third Monday of January, we celebrate the life and ever-growing legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite the global pandemic, many of Cleveland’s favorite attractions will still put on performances, celebrations and programming — albeit virtually.
Discussions of race, equity and social justice also permeate the gatherings this year. Speakers reflect on the work that has been done and what is to come.
Take the time this year to listen to a virtual discussion or musical performance from the comfort of home.
The Cleveland Orchestra | Jan. 14
The Cleveland Orchestra and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Open House will release videos of performances on The Cleveland Orchestra’s social media channels, including the 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Concert. As part of the “In Focus” series, the concert itself will begin at 7 p.m. and can be viewed for free online on Adella. It is the 41st year that the Orchestra has performed in honor of MLK. The Orchestra is performing works by Black composers George Walker, Florence Price, Leslie Adams and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. Learn more here.
Cleveland Jazz Orchestra | Jan. 17
Tune into a free livestream from BOP STOP for a concert presented through the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and The Roots of American Music organization in their first collaboration. The special 7 p.m. concert celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and inauguration week. Features include a new rendering of "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," music from “Nine Lives Suite” by Chris Coles and a composition from Roots of America member Liz Bullock. Learn more here.
BOP STOP at The Music Settlement | Jan. 17
Curated by Linda Allen and Matthew Jones, a free memorial concert will be livestreamed from BOP STOP at 3 p.m. The production is presented by Gertrude W. and William O. Frohring Foundation and will feature performances by faculty and students. Learn more here.
Akron-Summit County Public Library | Jan. 17
Matthew Cherry, the man who produced the award-winning short film, “Hair Love,” will discuss how his film and other creative work has reflected Dr. King’s dream. The film won the Academy Award for “Best Animated Short Film in 2020” and was then adapted into a “New York Times” bestseller children’s book. Register for the 2 p.m. Zoom event through the Akron library. Learn more here.
Hosted by Cleveland Public Library | Jan. 17-18
The Cleveland Public Library has partnered with WOIO-TV for their 36th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration. There will be performances from Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Karamu House, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and The Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival. Reverend Marvin A. McMickle also will hold a conversation during the program, which aims to honor unsung heroes. Learn more here.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame | Jan. 18
Although the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will reopen for in-person visits on Jan. 17, they will continue to offer free, online programming to celebrate MLK Day. Themed around the exhibit “It’s Been Said All Along: Voices of Rage, Hope & Empowerment,” the event includes music and dance performances by Olivet Institutional Baptist Church Gospel Choir and exclusive Rock Hall Vault footage of African American artists. The celebration explores how music has been used to fight for equal rights and social justice. Learn more here.
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage | Jan. 18
In person and online, this free event hosted by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage goes on all day. Take part in an interactive, online family event called “March Toward Freedom” at 1 p.m. where participants listen to an excerpt of “As Good as Anybody” followed by a Q&A and an improv-style activity. Get uncomfortable in a good way with Dr. David Pilgrim during an online discussion called “Race, Racism, and the Jim Crow Museum” and view items from The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Register for the 3 p.m. event and grow through dialogue. For those visitors wanting to go in-person, register your visit in advance and enjoy free admission for your self-guided tour of exhibits and galleries. Learn more here.
Greater Cleveland Aquarium | Jan. 18
Join aquarium staff on a 20-minute live tour of the animals in the Tropical Forest Gallery. The Greater Cleveland Aquarium and the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland Inc. (UBF) has teamed up again and the virtual tour costs $5. Participants need to pre-register for the Zoom event. Learn more here.
Cleveland Museum of Art | Jan. 18
King’s Beloved Community is a society held together with love, social justice and equal opportunity. At Cleveland Museum of Art, poets have used Michelangelo Lovelace’s painting “My Home Town” (1998) painting to explore the topic. Virtually join speakers Reverend Dr. Jawanza Colvin, Cuyahoga County poet laureate Honey Bell-Bey, and acclaimed poet Orlando Watson in a moderated discussion at 6 p.m. Learn more here.
jHUB Cle | Jan. 18
Samia from jHUB and Pete Saudek from Repair the World Cleveland will host a virtual lunch on Zoom to talk about the racial and ethnic diversity in the Jewish community. The event is free, but registration is required. The pair encourage people to bring their own lunches and join the conversation. Learn more here.
Karamu House | Jan. 18 - Jan. 25
Karamu House has created a virtual presentation to honor and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The 55-minute, free production is called “Infinite Hope” combines song, dance and spoken word. Plus, anyone can stream it. Registration is required to view it through the Karamu House website. Learn more here.
Various attractions | Jan. 20
(NOTE: Please check each attraction’s website for up-to-date hours and operating procedures prior to arrival.)
Case Western Reserve University | Feb. 5
Keynote speaker Heather McGhee is expected to kick off Case Western Reserve University's 2021 MLK Convocation. McGhee will share insights from her book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” CWRU’s aim is to remember King's mission and keep his dream alive. Past convocations have included art exhibits, speeches, lunches, panels, performances, plays and films. Learn more here.