Racial privilege and oppression, sexism, tribal sovereignty and peacemaking are among the topics to be addressed during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Conference.
The conference, one of a few local MLK-related events, takes place Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Syre Center on Whatcom Community College’s campus.
This year’s theme is “Listening as a Radical Act: Honoring All Voices.” W. Tali Hairston, director of the John M. Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development at Seattle Pacific University, will serve as keynote speaker. His talk is titled “Just Listening: Hearing the Voices of the Marginalized.”
The keynote will open the conference, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Following that will be a youth summit for grades 8-12 and a series of skill-building workshops for the general community. Among the workshop topics: a primer on transgender, pronouns and creating a safer community; building allyship skills for men; tribal sovereignty in public school curriculum; dismantling systemic racism; writing and listening from the heart; and an introduction to Lummi peacemaking circles.
The conference, which runs until about 3:30 p.m., is free and open to everyone. Food vendors will be on site with lunch options for sale.
Other local events honoring King and his legacy:
▪ 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, Bellingham Community Gospel Choir MLK Celebration Concert. The Whatcom Museum hosts the Bellingham Community Gospel Choir for a tribute concert in celebration of King. At Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. All ages. $3 suggested donation. Information: 360-778-8930.
▪ 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, MLK Day work party hosted by the city of Bellingham and Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association. Join NSEA and the city at Padden Creek near Fairhaven Park, 107 Chuckanut Drive, to improve salmon habitat. There will be raffle prizes and tours of the newly opened Padden Creek daylighting project. All ages welcome. Free.
▪ Noon Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Kulshan Chorus. The Black National Anthem will be performed by Annika Wolters. City Council member Roxanne Murphy will be the emcee. Speakers are Mayor Kelli Linville, Jamie K. Donaldson, and Cedric Johnson. This year's theme is “Women & Civil Rights.” The free event will be televised live on BTV10 and also streamed at cob.org.
▪ 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18, Community Food Co-op hosts its 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr., Poetry Reading and Open Mic at the Co-op Connections building classroom, 405 E. Holly St. The free poetry reading and open mic will be emceed by Kevin Murphy. Everyone is invited to share a poem or song focusing on diversity, human rights or related issues. (Please limit presentations to five minutes.) Information: 360-734-8158.
▪ Jan. 17 and 18: Free days at Washington State Parks, no Discover Pass required.