Things to Do

Our List of 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events

A number of local organizations are hosting events to celebrate King's life and legacy.

By Allison Forsyth January 15, 2021


Martin Luther King Jr. Day takes place on Monday, Jan. 18. Here are some local online and in-person celebrations to join this year:

Westcoast Black Theater Troupe's Martin Luther King 2021 Celebration

Saturday, Jan. 16-Monday, Jan. 18, virtual,

The troupe will be streaming its 2019 performance, "MLK: Celebrating His Legacy in Spoken Word and Song." The video features reenactments of King's speeches and writings through song and dance. Also, the winner of the organization's 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest will be announced, and the winner will read a portion of his or her essay. Admission is free.

John Sims' "2020: (Di)Visions of America" Premiere

7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, virtual,

Sarasota artist John Sims and The Ringling are celebrating King's birthday with the premiere of Sims' work "2020: (Di)Vision of America." The multimedia project will be presented online on Monday night, and recorded versions will be available on the Ringling's website on Jan. 23, 30 and Feb. 1. The presentation will feature Dr. Lisa Merritt of the Multicultural Health Institute, who is studying Covid-19 and is a local leader of the Black Lives Matter movement. Admission is $15 or $13.50 for Ringling members.

Newtown's MLK Memorial Park Health Event

1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, 2523 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota,

The Multicultural Health Institute will be hosting an event at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in the Newtown community. Staff members of the institute will be handing out current information on Covid-19 and offering general health information. Blood pressure checks will be administered, and masks and hand sanitizer will be handed out. The event takes place from 1 to 4 p.m.

18th Annual Embracing Our Differences Outdoor Exhibit

Wednesday, Jan. 20-Thursday, April 1, Bayfront Park,

This outdoor art exhibit celebrates diversity and takes place every year at Sarasota's Bayfront Park. Fifty submissions from international students and adults are featured in billboard fashion throughout the park. This year, the best-in-show award for an adult went to Arya Badiyan for "Liberty Enlightening the World," and best-in-show for a student went to Sarasota Middle School seventh grader Emily Norris for "Small Struggles."

USF "Black & Brown Live Matter in Research, Too" Webinar 

Noon Thursday, Jan. 21, virtual,

Join the University of South Florida for this virtual webinar discussing the prevalence of chronic diseases and their impact on life expectancy in minority populations. The webinar will feature Black researchers explaining how research in minority populations is essential to optimizing pharmacological treatments. Admission is free; click here to register.

The Multicultural Health Institute's MLK Day of Service

1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, 2705 51st Ave. E., Bradenton,

The Multicultural Health Institute will host a day of health services at Goodwill Manasota. Free food distribution will be available, as well as blood pressure checks, diabetes education and screening, body mass index checks and free Covid-19 testing and vaccine information. Referrals and follow-up appointments will be scheduled for those who need to see a doctor. Free hand sanitizer and face masks will be distributed. SunCoast Blood Centers' mobile unit will be on site for blood donations, as well. Admission is free; the event runs 1-4 p.m.

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