Several free Bellingham events in the next week will honor Martin Luther King Jr. The official holiday is Monday, Jan. 19.
Annual MLK conference
No registration is needed for the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Conference, except for educators registering clock hours. The conference, which runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, features speakers, skill-building workshops and light refreshments. One or more of the workshops will be geared toward youth as this is an all-ages event.
This year’s conference theme is “Making the Dream Our Reality,” with speaker Erin Jones, director of equity and achievement for Federal Way Public Schools. Jones was honored at the White House in 2013 as a “champion of change” for her work to further education achievement among minority students.
Bellingham Community Gospel Choir presents “The Freedom Riders & MLK” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, in the Rotunda Room of the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall galleries, 121 Prospect St.
It honors the Freedom Riders, multi-ethnic civil-rights activists who challenged Jim Crow laws in the South during the 1960s. Admission is a $3 suggested donation; free for museum members.
Day of service
Park clearing: Volunteers are asked to dedicate part of their holiday Monday, Jan. 19, to service by helping improve Maritime Heritage Park’s riparian habitat for salmon and doing some landscaping to make the park more welcoming to people. Among the projects are removing invasive hawthorns, blackberry bushes and English ivy and replacing them with native plants. Work is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come dressed for the weather and prepared to work on steep slopes. Gloves, tools, instruction and refreshments will be provided by sponsors Bellingham Parks and Recreation and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association. Parking is in the nearby C Street lot.
Other projects also need volunteers for Monday, including preparing a greenhouse for a program that helps veterans, and landscaping job and storage organization at day cares. For more on those and to sign up, go to whatcomvolunteer.org and follow the links for Martin Luther King events. Click on the “ join us here” link for the service projects.
Read-in for children
Children ages 3 to 8 are invited to Village Books, 1200 11th St., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to hear stories about diversity, multiculturalism and the civil rights movement.
The activities will be led by student volunteers from Western Washington University. Drop in anytime during the event.
Bellingham City Hall celebration
The traditional noon celebration on Monday at City Hall, 210 Lottie St., will feature musical entertainment by the Kulshan Chorus. Speakers include Mayor Kelli Linville; Kristen French, director of Western Washington University’s Center for Education, Equity and Diversity; community advocate and musician Edwin “Skip” Williams; and poet and activist Ellen Murphy.
This year’s theme is “Inifinite Hope: The Courage of Movement.” For those who can’t attend, the event will be shown live on the city’s cable channel, BTV10, and streamed at cob.org. City Hall offices are closed Monday for the holiday.
Poetry reading and open mic
The Community Food Co-op hosts its 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Poetry Reading and Open Mic at 6 p.m. Monday. Kevin Murphy will emcee the event at the deli in the downtown store, 1220 N. Forest St.
Anyone can share a poem or song focusing on diversity, human rights or related issues. Organizers ask that presentations be limited to five minutes.
Free park access
Day-use fees will be waived at sites in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on Monday to mark the holiday.
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