Tacoma will host its 28th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Monday, Jan. 18th, at the Tacoma Convention Center. In celebration of King’s birthday, which takes place on the 15th, the city hosts this event annually to commemorate an “ordinary man making an extraordinary change.” This family-friendly event is expected to draw roughly 2,000-3,000 people. The doors will open at 10 a.m. and the event begins at 11 a.m. The event is expected to end at 1 p.m.
The official goal of this event is to “celebrate Monday, Jan. 18th, as a day on, not a day off.” The theme of the event is “Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Change.”
The event will feature Dr. William Bell as the keynote speaker. Bell, who is the president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, created a movement that focuses on eliminating violence in American cities against African American men and boys. The national movement, titled Cities United, was also created to promote leadership and creative endeavors within the African American community.
According to the official event website, this celebration will also include music, dance, and poetry in order to “highlight the strengths, resiliency, and creativity” of young people of color. King’s relationship within the community and how he challenged our nation’s laws will also be highlighted, as well as how he set out to make people of color equal in the eyes of everyone in America.
The event is planned and coordinated by the City Events and Recognition Committee. They serve as an “advisory and action committee on matters pertaining to special recognition programs.” Their goal is to plan and leverage funds for events such as the one described.
An award, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award, will be presented to a member of the Tacoma Community that encouraged excellence throughout the year by partaking in a service event or activity.
This event features free on-street parking by the convention center and locally at Freighthouse Square located at 2501 East D St. There will also be complimentary parking stalls at a first-come first-served basis at the convention center.
If you are unable to attend the event, the celebration will be televised live and covered on TV Tacoma, which is carried by Comcast on Channel 12. The channel, however, is not only available through Comcast. Another service provider, Click!, will also be televising the event on channel 12.
Another event highlighted specifically within our campus that touches on King’s birthday is a breakfast celebration on campus. The Black Students Union and the Division of Student and Enrollment Services at UWT will also be hosting an event to commemorate King’s birthday. The MLK, Jr. Unity Breakfast will take place on Jan. 18th at 8 a.m. at the University Y Student Center. The theme of the event is “the spirit of justice in a new generation.” According to the events page at tacoma.uw.edu/mlk, the breakfast is a continued tradition on its tenth year dedicated to celebrating “the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and his historic civil leadership that inspired a nation to strive for equality.” The keynote speaker invited to the event, Keith Beauchamp, is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker. The breakfast is expected to end at 10:30 a.m.