BELLINGHAM - Several events in the city will honor Martin Luther King Jr. in the coming days. All are free to attend and open to everyone.
HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE
"Uniting for Human Rights and Environmental Justice" is the theme of the 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Conference at Whatcom Community College.
The free conference will be 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the school's Syre Student Center. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.
The keynote speaker will be Jay Julius of the Lummi Nation. The secretary of the Lummi Indian Business Council and a fisherman will talk about issues of environmental importance to tribes.
The conference is being hosted by WCC, the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, and Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.
For more information, contact the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force at email@example.com or go to whrtf.org.
The Community Food Co-op will host its 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Poetry Reading and Open Mic at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20.
The event will be at the downtown co-op, 1220 N. Forest St.; Kevin Murphy will serve as emcee.
Everyone is invited to share a poem or song focusing on diversity, human rights or related issues. Presentations should be no more than five minutes.
READ-IN FOR CHILDREN
Children ages 3 to 8 can hear stories about diversity, multiculturalism and the civil rights movement at Village Books, 1200 11th St.
The event, sponsored by Village Books and Western Washington University's Center for Service-Learning, runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20. WWU student volunteers will lead the readings, discussion and activities. Parents are welcome to participate.
Village Books and Western's Associated Students Bookstore also will have books available for purchase as part of the MLK Day Book Drive. Donation bins will be set up at both locations, and any books donated will benefit the library of Alderwood Elementary School.
POVERTY ACTION MARCH
The third annual Poverty Action March begins at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at Bellingham High School, 2020 Cornwall Ave., and continues past City Hall.
The march is meant to raise awareness for the unmet needs in the community and support those in poverty in their struggles toward equal opportunity. Organizers say the march is inspired by the 1968 Poor People's March on Washington, D.C., that was being planned only months before Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, to bring attention to economic and social disparities for Americans living in poverty.
Dozens of service projects across the community will be done Monday, Jan. 20.
A free breakfast for volunteers and those participating in the Poverty Action March is at 10 a.m. at Bellingham High School. The event includes a performance by the Kulshan Chorus; Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville also is expected to stop by.
Projects including painting, landscaping, organizing, removal of invasive plants, and seed planting.
People who wish to serve can sign up through the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County website at whatcomvolunteer.org/events/mlk-day or by calling 360-734-3055.
Community members are encouraged to continue donating items for the Essential Needs Drive through Jan. 20. Essential needs include diapers, laundry soap, toiletries, baby food, canned and dried goods and new winter clothing.
Items can be dropped off at: the Whatcom Volunteer Center, 725 N. State St.; both locations of the Community Food Co-op; the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center at 1220 Bay St.; Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St.; Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, 2600 Lakeway Drive; and Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 1720 Harris Ave. Items also can be donated on Jan. 20 at Bellingham High School.
FREE PARKS DAY
Parking at Washington State Parks is free on Monday, Jan. 20. This includes Larrabee, Birch Bay and Peace Arch state parks in Whatcom County. The U.S. Forest Service also is waiving fees Monday at Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
A Discover Pass still is required for lands managed by the state Department of Natural Resources or Fish & Wildlife.