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How to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Westchester

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Here are top ways you and your family can remember the legacy of Dr. King through media and in-person events in Westchester. 

It can be hard finding family activities that honor the memory and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Yet in a time when those teachings are so needed, we wanted to make sure you can find ways to do just that. Here are our top picks for virtual, at-home, and in-person plans you can make this year.

To Read

This MLK Day, consider introducing your little ones to Doctor King with a copy of I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Metzer. The bestselling novelist and comic writer teamed up with illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos for a series of biographical picture books ideal for a first meeting with historical figures such as King. Cute and accessible, the pages are also filled with detailed information.

Older kids may also enjoy the graphic novel trilogy March by the late MLK contemporary and former U.S. representative John Lewis.

To Watch

All things considered, it’s a lot easier to get multiple children to settle down on the couch for a movie than it is for joint reading time. While many of our MLK Day movie recommendations would be a bit mature for the whole family, we highly recommend 1999’s direct-to-video time travel classic Our Friend, Martin.

The story follows two sixth-graders with very little respect or understanding for the civil rights movement who end up traveling through time to meet Martin Luther King Jr. at various periods in the leader’s life. The all-star cast features appearances by Dexter and Yolanda King (portraying their father and aunt, respectively), as well as LeVar Burton, Jaleel White, Ed Asner, Angela Bassett, Danny Glover, Whoopie Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Ashley Judd, Susan Sarandon, John Travolta, and Oprah Winfrey.

At just over an hour, it’s an easy and excellent introduction into some of the more important events and goals of King’s life without feeling as emotionally heavy as films like Selma, and it’s readily available to stream online.

For the older crowd, King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis is also available to stream online for free, via Kanopy, with any active Westchester library card or a University login.

To Do

African American Men of Westchester will also be holding its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Youth Awards Luncheon on Monday at 11:30 a.m. The awards ceremony honors King’s messages and legacy of hope and unity by recognizing four young Westchester students who represent these ideals through acts of service and leadership within their communities. Seven students will be awarded with a $1,000 academic scholarships. This year’s ceremony will be held at the Sleepy Hollow Conference Center in Tarrytown.

If you’re looking to give back to the community yourself, Volunteer New York! has once again organized an MLK Day of Service, with multiple volunteer opportunities between now and January 31. This year’s events include a volunteer painting project organized by LIFE Progressive Services, collecting and shopping for winter clothing in New Rochelle, and multiple virtual events for those who can’t make it in person.

 

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Feeding Westchester will likewise host its MLK Day campaign “It Starts With Me” from January 16 through the end of the month, encouraging locals to donate cereal to the organization’s Winter Food Drive, start a fundraiser, or make winter “Help From Home” bags. Sign up or make a donation online.

The Fuller Center in New Rochelle will be running its annual Martin Luther King Build-A-Thon from January 13 to 23, helping to create homes for veterans and those in need. For more information, text 914.406.3357.

The Nepperhan Community Center of Yonkers will host its Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration in-person on Monday, January 16 from 9 to 11 a.m. Enjoy a catered breakfast along with a guest speaker as they honor the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Day is also a free entrance holiday at all national parks. While we might be a ways away from the likes of Yosemite, “national parks” technically includes more local spots like the Old Croton Aqueduct, Sleepy Hollow’s Old Dutch Church, Philipse Manor Hall, the Elephant Hotel of Somers, and plenty more.

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