In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s contribution to our history and to civil rights today, organizations across Northern Michigan have developed programs to inspire discussion, recognize how far civil rights have come in the United States and map a future for continued progress. These organizations invite you to participate. Many of the programs are free. Here are a few ways Northern Michigan celebrates the civil rights movement in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work:

Peace Day at Great Lakes Children’s Museum
In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day the Great Lakes Children’s Museum offers special programs and activities focused on tolerance and peace. Age appropriate experiences include messages about anti-bullying and peaceful communications.

State Theatre MLK Day Celebration – Free!
Each year, the State Theatre honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his holiday with free
movies. For more information, check the State Theatre schedule  or call 231-947-3446. This year those movies include the following:

9:00 AM
A timeless American classic. Based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel by Harper Lee, it follows young siblings Scout and Jem on their daring adventures through the sleepy Alabama town of Maycomb in the 1930s.

A landmark documentary that chronicles the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, and culminating with his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Originally screened in theaters for only a single night in 1970, “King: A Filmed Record” combines dramatic readings by Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones and Paul Newman, among others, with newsreel and archival footage to create a powerful and comprehensive record of Dr. King’s legacy and the American Civil Rights movement.

5:30 PM
This special live performance event features an engaging and often familiar collection of music by iconic folk, blues and jazz artists whose music had historical significance and helped define the civil rights movement such as Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Otis Spann, Dave Brubeck, Max Roach and Herbie Hancock. Headlining performers include critically acclaimed singer/historian Ray Kamalay, and the renowned Rodney Whitaker Quintet with vocalist Rockelle Fortin. Sponsored by the TC Human Rights Commission, the State Theatre, and Building Bridges with Music, Golden-Fowler and Grand Traverse Pie Company, this year’s event promises a unique and engaging musical perspective on the civil rights movement.

8:00 PM
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family.

The State Theatre’s celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is part of the “Embrace the Dream” series, a collaboration of organizations and venues across the Grand Traverse Region who are working together to herald Black History Month, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the rights and respect of all.

One-Woman Production Tells Harriet Tubman’s Tale: The Spirit of Harriet Tubman to be performed in Traverse City, Scottville

Actress Leslie McCurdy brings her one-woman show, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, to two Northern Michigan theaters in February.  This brilliant rendering of the abolitionist’s life is a timely, informative complement to the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Embrace the Dream Series At Dennos Museum
As part of the second annual Embrace the Dream collaboration founded upon the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College presents the Created Equal Film Festival, January 23-26. All films will be shown at 7:00 PM in Milliken Auditorium free of charge, with a final discussion program on January 26 at 2:00 PM with Dr. David Pilgrim from the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University. All films are screened with subtitles, and the Milliken auditorium is equipped with a T-coil hearing loop for individuals with hearing impairments.

Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for the sites.

The Dennos Museum Center is one of 473 institutions across the country awarded a set of four films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. These powerful documentaries, The Abolitionists, Slavery by Another Name, Freedom Riders, and The Loving Story, include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all. Check the schedule of events at Dennos or call 231.995.1055.