In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we've rounded up a few of the MLK-related events planned next week in Lawrence. As in previous years, local tributes to the civil rights leader will include music, dance, food and fellowship, and an emphasis on community service. From Lawrence Public Schools to the Lawrence Public Library, here's how the area plans to celebrate King's enduring legacy:
Sunday, Jan. 14
• Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave., is offering a musical celebration of the civil rights icon with its 32nd annual Gospel Explosion, slated for Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, and all are welcome.
Monday, Jan. 15
• The Jayhawk Breakfast Rotary Club will host its 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Monday at Maceli’s Banquet Hall, 1031 New Hampshire St.
Andrew William, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Kansas School of Engineering, will deliver the keynote address. Vocalist Vanessa Thomas is also slated to perform as part of the festivities. Admission is $10 per person or $80 per table. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling Bernie Kish at 864-0703.
• The University of Kansas is once again hosting a march in honor of King, this time slated for 1 p.m. on the KU campus. Participants will meet in the rotunda of Strong Hall (1450 Jayhawk Blvd.) before proceeding — with brass band leading the way — to the Kansas Memorial Union, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd.
There, visitors will be treated to hot refreshments and a performance by Lawrence hip-hop artist and KU alumnus Cuee, featuring Soul Chemist. Festivities should wrap up around 2:30 p.m.
• The Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., is encouraging residents to take the “day on, not off.” Together with AmeriCorps, the NAACP, the Women of Color Muralists and students from Lawrence and Free State high schools, the library is hosting an entire day of service-oriented activities for all ages.
Programs include a diversity-focused storytime with local NAACP leader Ursula Minor at 10:30 a.m., a community art project with Lawrence’s Women of Color Muralists at 11 a.m. and a 4 p.m. screening of Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary “13th,” about the interwoven history of racial inequality and mass incarceration in the United States.
Hy-Vee lunch will be provided (for free) at noon, and free copies of the 2018 Read Across Lawrence selection, R.J. Palacio’s “Wonder,” will be distributed at 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 16
New York Elementary School will host its annual MLK Chili Feed from 5 to 7 p.m. in the school gym and cafeteria, 936 New York St. This year’s installment once again features chili, various side dishes, drinks and desserts, offered for a free-will donation, and a musical performance from congregants of the St. Luke AME Church.
The event is open to the public. Cash donations will be collected at the door, with proceeds benefiting New York Elementary School.
Wednesday, Jan. 17
• On Wednesday, the KU Office of Diversity and Equity will host “Building Communities of Care and Justice: Our Local Work,” as part of weeklong MLK celebrations at the university. The panel discussion will involve representatives from Kansas Appleseed, United Way, Justice Matters and Just Food. Participants will answer questions about the major challenges facing the Lawrence area as it pertains to their agencies and what they’ll need from community members in addressing those issues.
The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
Thursday, Jan. 18
The public is once again invited to the Lawrence school district’s annual ONE DREAM MLK Celebration, hosted this year at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive. First up: a gallery of cultural exhibits in the school’s commons area beginning at 5:30 p.m. Included among the selections are LEGO displays of Lawrence’s historically black churches, pieces from Marla Quilts Inc. African American Museum and Textile Academy, student works and more.
The ONE DREAM program commences at 6:30 p.m. in the Free State auditorium. Highlights include presentation of the annual MLK awards, which recognize students, staff and community members for their character, service and commitment to equity. Cultural tributes and performances by Lawrence High School’s ROAR ensemble, Chinese classical dancer Wanwan Cai and spoken-word poet and percussionist Barry R. Barnes will also be part of the program.
Auditorium doors open at 6 p.m., followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served afterward in the gallery.