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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day Under Pandemic Restrictions

Many annual celebrations go virtual
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:37 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As we approach another holiday usually marked with parades and large in-person gatherings many are finding alternative ways to honor the King legacy.

The traditional gatherings of fellowship, education, and service like so many other things will be put on hold due to the pandemic, but there are still opportunities to mark the day.

Shukrani Gray of the New Orleans Public Library African American Resource Collection, Equity and Inclusion Librarian said, “I’m looking at Canal Street and I’m looking at Oretha Castle Haley and there is a history behind these streets and that’s directly connected to Dr. King’s”

The New Orleans Public Library’s long-running annual event goes online starting Thursday, January 13, with the first of two 20-minute multimedia segments that highlight King’s work and the local ties. Gray said, “So much of the Civil Rights movement happened in these southern cities and New Orleans was very important.”

Gray sees the virtual event that will include discussion points and links to other research as a benefit. She said, “It’s kind of the added bonus of the hidden gem of being in this new pandemic society where everything is online. It’s open to everyone, not just people in New Orleans and you can watch it over and over again.”

The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art are both offering free admission on Martin Luther King Day. The museums are operating at a diminished capacity and ask that patrons make reservations for timed tickets.

Ogden is hosting its 4th year of special programming, but other than a digital scavenger hunt that can be entered for prizes at the museum it’s mostly online. Ellen Balkin the director of education at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is excited to be able to offer the opportunity. She said, “You can kind of spend your whole day exploring what we have to offer and celebrating the wonderful legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The musical and poetry performances, educational talks, and art enrichment will all be available on their website including a virtual tour of Ernest Wither’s photography. Children’s art packets can be picked up at the museum and New Orleans Public Libraries with online tutorials for the art projects.

“An uplifting day. A day of celebration and even though we’re not able to do what we normally do that we can provide something of education and fun and celebration,” said Balkin.

As part of the National Day of Service the city of New Orleans is recommending neighborhood clean ups with only those in your household.

In order to participate, they said all you need are trash bags, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a mask. You can post a before and after shot tagging the mayor @mayorcantrell and using the hashtag #MLKDayNOLA21.

There are also virtual volunteer opportunities you can sign up for through HandsOnNewOrleans.org.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed Monday, January 18.

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