How to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021 in Austin
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, and normally, there would a big parade in Austin to celebrate the life and enduring legacy of the civil rights leader. But since there's a pandemic on, things aren't happening normally.
Here are a few ways you still can mark the holiday and support the Black community in the Austin area.
• The Austin Area Heritage Council, which organizes the main MLK Day celebrations in the city, will be holding the Austin Area MLK Day Livestream and In-Car Rally starting at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
The in-car rally will be held in the parking lot of St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 3417 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Organizers are limiting car slots to about 60 due to Stage 5 coronavirus guidelines, with preregistration required. As of this writing, fewer than 10 slots remain.
The car rally event program will be livestreamed at facebook.com/mlkcelebration, as well as the MLK Celebration's YouTube channel. Organizers also ask participants and viewers to make monetary donations to the Central Texas Food Bank. Go to mlkcelebration.com for more information.
• MLK Day is also a national day of service. Austin's United Way details several ways to observe the occasion in a pandemic safe way: a self-guided tour of Black cultural landmarks in East Austin, a virtual activity for the family and a virtual conversation at 10 a.m. Monday. Go to unitedwayaustin.org/mlkday2021 for more information and to search for volunteer opportunities.
• George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center on Friday afternoon will present a virtual film double screening, followed by a Q&A. The films are "King in the Wilderness" and "We Are the Dream." The event is free via Zoom. Get more info on the Eventbrite page.
• Austin Health Commons will present a series of Truth and Racial Healing Circles, in honor of MLK Day and in collaboration with YMCA and Austin Community College. There are circles at three times: 2:30 to 5:15 p.m. and 3 to 5:45 p.m. Monday and 6 to 8:45 p.m. Tuesday. Find more information and a link to registration at facebook.com/austinhealthcommons.
• East Austin theater the Vortex will hold an MLK Day Artist Appreciation Broadcast at 8 p.m. Monday, instead of its usual open mic, with donations going directly to the artists involved. Any other donations the Vortex receives through its website during the broadcast will be sent to Austin Justice Coalition, according to a news release. For more information, including how to tune in, go to vortexrep.org.
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• The Bastrop County Monument Relocation Committee is raising money with a virtual concert on the holiday, to support efforts to remove and relocate a pair of Confederate monuments on the grounds of the Bastrop County Courthouse. The Move Forward Virtual Music Fest will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday and will be streamed on the Monument Relocation Bastrop Facebook page and the YouTube channel of Grace Pettis, one of the performing artists.
Other performances include country stars the Chicks, Grammy-nominated blues and folk artist Ruthie Foster, Americana and folk musician Eliza Gilkyson, former “American Idol” producer and Bastrop native Ron DeShay and singer and record producer Rachael Sage. — Cameron Drummond
• The city of Smithville is hosting a virtual celebration for the 32nd annual MLK Walk for Peace, Justice and Equality to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. Anyone interested in participating may do so online beginning Saturday at BastropCountyMLKDay.com to view a prerecorded program, including videos, photos, walking tours and downloadable documents. — Andy Sevilla
• Taylor's 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community March will be held virtually this year. A video commemoration will premiere at 9 a.m. Monday on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages. The video will also be broadcast on the city’s cable access channel, Channel 99, starting at 9 a.m. and will repeat until 11:30 a.m. The video features community messages as well as a reading of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech by the Rev. W. Hosey of God’s Way Baptist Church with a slideshow of photos from events held in the past. Go to ci.taylor.tx.us for more information. — Tom Labinski