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Martin Luther King Jr Day

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

FREE online performances and activities!
  • Dates:
    Jan 18, 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • Ages:
    All ages
  • Where:
    Online
  • Tickets:

    Free!

  • Accessibility:

    Accessible online.

  • Welcome to the community slideshow! These participants in our MLK celebration have shared their artwork and poetry with you.

    Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • Twins Nala and Noah created “RESIST” posters guided by Valencia Fine Arts video and worksheet.

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 8
  • “My 9 year old twins and I so enjoyed making our Resist watercolor posters. We had a great discussion about what things we resist as a family, in our community, and our planet. And how those things are aligned with our family values. We also discussed the meaning of the words we chose, the opposites of each, examples in history and in present times of those words. This was a great way to not only commemorate the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr, but all those who stood up, and still stand up today, for what’s right.” – Jena

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 9
  • Thank you for sharing, Noah, Nala, and Jena!

    Make your own RESIST poster and share with us. Scroll down the page to find the video and instructions.

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 10
  • Sadie, 12 years old and from Seattle, shared this poem inspired by Write253’s poetry prompts. Thank you Sadie!

    Scroll down the page to find three poetry writing prompts and create your own.

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 11
  • Sister and brother Sasha (age 7) and Micah (age 5) made a pocket book of Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence.

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 12
  • “I loved doing this with my kids. Both of them loved the arts and crafts. I loved the reminder of my MLK history lessons. It was an amazing way and format to stimulate relaxed but profound conversation…”

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 14
  • “We got to talk about race, privilege, peaceful protests, and justice. It was also inspiring and thought provoking for me as an adult as I consider the social justice issues we face as a country today.” – Webster

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 15
  • Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 16
  • This RESIST poster was created by Santoshi, age 14, from Snoqualmie. Thank you Santoshi for sharing your work!

    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 13

We hope you joined us to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy with our partners at Tacoma Arts Live, Write253, and artist Valencia Carroll – but if you couldn’t make it, don’t worry! All of the activities are still available via this webpage, just scroll down!

Explore how history connects us all. Send your poetry and photos of your artwork to share in our virtual community gallery.

Below you’ll find:

  • Poetry writing prompts with Write253, inspired by Civil Rights era poetry, with links to related resources.
  • Artmaking guided by arts educator Valencia Carroll through videos and worksheets.
  • Links to theater performances from Tacoma Arts Live including Q&A with the performers and director.
  • Downloadable exhibits about Dr. King’s visit to Washington and the Tacoma Civil Rights Movement from Washington State Historical Society.

Share your work in our community gallery! Click below to find out how.

How to share your art and poetry

Want to share your creations for our community gallery? Great!
  • Text images of your work to 253-343-7004. Include your first name, age, and the name of your town.
  • Email your poems or images of your artwork to molly.wilmoth@wshs.wa.gov. Include your first name, age, and the name of your town.
  • Another way to share – post your poems or artwork photos on Instagram or Facebook using #waMLKday and tag us @washingtonhistory, @valenciafinearts, @Write253, and @TacomaArtsLive.
Poetry Writing with Write253

When the world tells you, you can’t heal – to embark on the journey of healing is creating a beautiful resistance that the world can’t stop. To declare one’s own “emancipation proclamation,” as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say – is to step into one’s own power of cultivating resilience for one’s life. To celebrate and preserve all that is good about who you are and who your community is, is to resist internalized and externalized oppression.

These three prompts are crafted in the themes bolded above, these prompts are ones to engage your senses, cultivate self-reflection, and to take action for the world you want to see. Share your poetry in our community gallery by emailing to molly.wilmoth@wshs.wa.gov or texting to 253-343-7004.

healing // release // let go

Listen & watch Eryn Allen Kane’s video, Fragile, and search the lyrics if you so choose.

Here are some of the lyrics:

My mother taught me the way to operate a crane
Carrying heavy loads with a smile through pouring rain…
– Eryn Allen Kane, Fragile

Pre-write:
In Fragile, Eryn mentions “carrying heavy loads.” Make a list of “heavy loads” that you carry.

Prompt:
Exploring one of the “heavy loads” you listed in your list, what is a load that you’d like to set down? That you’d like to release?

Need help getting started? Here’s some sentence-starters to help you highlight your experience:

I notice…
I feel…
I hear…
I release…
I thank…

History:

There are many in history who have “carried heavy loads” and stood up against injustice not only for themselves but for their community. One such example of this is Claudette Colvin. At the age of 15, Claudette refused to give up her seat for a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Learn more about Claudette here.

Share:

You can share your poetry with us for our community gallery (directions at the top of the webpage).

emancipation proclamation

Watch this video clip by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here are some of his words:

“Believe in yourself and believe that you’re somebody… Nobody else can do this for us… If the Negro is to be free, he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sign with a pen and ink of self-assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation.”

Pre-write:

Dr. King speaks of “inner resources.” Inner resources can be strengths, character traits, skills, etc. Make a list of your “inner resources.”

Prompt:

Using your list of “inner resources,” how would you define your “emancipation proclamation?” What does that letter of freedom look like for yourself? For your community?

Extend:

Grab some colored pencils and draw! Draw yourself at the top of a mountain radiating these “inner resources.”

History:

The Emancipation Proclamation released all African Americans in the South from slavery on January 1, 1863. It was signed by President Abraham Lincoln as the southern states refused to rejoin the Union. Some people use the term “emancipation proclamation” to describe setting someone or a community free from oppression, like Dr. King in the video you watched for this prompt. Learn more about the original Emancipation Proclamation through these resources.

Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Coloring Book by the National Archives.

The Emancipation Proclamation Exhibit by the National Archives.

Glossary:

Believe: to have faith or confidence
Emancipation: a setting free
Freedom: power of self-determination, state of free will; emancipation from slavery, deliverance
Proclamation: act of making public; that which is proclaimed; a calling out, crying out

Learn about the etymology (origin) of these words.

Share:

You can share your poetry with us for our community gallery (directions at the top of the webpage).

self-love // self-preservation // celebration

Read the poem below by writer Mu Knowles:

my one wish
was that you loved me
but every wish
seemed to fail
no wishes were ever granted
because i never thought
to wish
to love myself

Read and/or listen to won’t you celebrate with me by Lucille Clifton:

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Prompt Options:

1). Write a poem in which you grant a wish to yourself. What is that wish? Write this statement in a form of a simile (comparing two things using the words “like” or “as” to compare). For example: “dear self, my wish for you is to be fearless like a lion.”

2). When you are oppressed, scrutinized, and dehumanized on a daily basis – to “celebrate” is an act of resilience that is necessary for survival and cultivating self-love. What is your recipe for celebration? More broadly, what is your recipe for resilience? Detail what this looks like for you, step by step, as though you were to give a cooking recipe to a friend.

History:

The Million Man March took place October 16, 1995 in Washington, D.C to acknowledge the 400 years of slavery and oppression of Black Americans. Many recognize the Million Man March as a day of atonement, reconciliation and responsibility for Black people across the country and world. Learn more here.

Mu Knowles Bio:

Mu Knowles (they/them) is a Black trans nonbinary queer person and Afro-Indigenous futurist artist. Born and raised in the historically Black neighborhood of Hilltop in Puyallup Tribal territory, they intentionally express and explore their artistry, embodiment, community, world and existence through the holding of space, and weaving of the practices of poetry, writing, song writing, music, speech, spoken word, photography and videography.

Facebook: MuKnowles
Instagram: @mu.mu.mu.mu.mu.mu.mu
Email: knowles.mu@gmail.com

Share:

You can share your poetry with us for our community gallery (directions at the top of the webpage).

About Write253 and prompt composer Gloria Joy Kazuko Muhammad

Gloria Joy Kazuko Muhammad is a writer, teaching artist, and educator. Currently a paraeducator, she has worked with young people and adult learners in various educational settings. As a writer, Gloria is inspired by spirituality, everyday life, nature, music, and cinematography. She is a graduate of Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab and hosts virtual writing workshops rooted in healing and personal development. Send her your poems and tag her on Instagram!

Email: gloriajoymuhammad@gmail.com
Instagram: @whoisgloriajoy

Write253 is a literary arts organization who mission is to provide creative and transformative writing opportunities that create community and cross boundaries among youth in greater Tacoma. For more information, please visit www.write253.com.

Artmaking Activities with Valencia Carroll

Try the three artmaking activities below to explore the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These projects were designed and created by arts educator Valencia Carroll. Each activity includes a downloadable PDF and instructional video.

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2
Six Principles of Nonviolence

Make a book!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted nonviolent ways to fight discrimination, racism and injustice. Download and print this worksheet and follow the video to create your own booklet of Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence. You can also create a booklet to write your own ideas about how to fight injustice. You can share your finished projects with us for our community gallery (directions above).

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 3
Civil Rights Advocacy

Make a RESIST poster

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights Movement proponents lived their lives advocating for equal rights, justice and peace. Dr. King in particular resisted hate, injustice, and violence. Follow this worksheet and video to create a poster to visualize what you need to resist and to advocate for justice. You can share your finished projects with us for our community gallery (directions above).

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 3
Celebrate Your Work

Make a Frame!

Celebrating your work is a way to build resilience. Salute the beautiful RESIST poster you created (see preceding artmaking activity), a poem you wrote with Write253’s prompts (linked on this webpage), or your own creation by crafting your own unique frame. The video and this worksheet will guide you through the project. You can share your finished projects with us for our community gallery (directions above).

Tacoma Arts Live Theater Performances with Q & A

We shared two theater performances followed by real-time questions and answers with the performers and director as part of our MLK Day celebration. You can still see those performances and the recorded conversations by clicking the buttons below! Both performances honor civil rights leaders and encourage civic responsibility in learners of all ages.

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 6
Theater Performance with live Q & A

Get On The Bus

See how the Freedom Rides of the 1960s impacted the Civil Rights Movement and continue to inspire social activists today.

A live conversation with the director and actors took place on Jan. 18, and you can see both the theater performance and the following conversation on the History Museum’s  recorded Facebook Live events. Click the button below!

Watch Get On The Bus
Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 7
Theater Performance with live Q & A

Ruby Bridges

Just one person can help change the world. The elementary school student Ruby Bridges fought injustice by attending a once segregated public school.

A live conversation with the director and actors took place on Jan. 18, and you can see both the theater performance and the following conversation on the History Museum’s  recorded Facebook Live events. Click the button below!

Watch Ruby Bridges
Downloadable Exhibits from Washington State Historical Society

Learn more about the struggle for civil rights in Tacoma and about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to Washington State through these downloadable exhibitions created by the Washington State Historical Society.

Dr. King Comes to Washington State

Click below to download this three panel exhibit.

Dr. King Visits Washington

Tacoma's Struggle for Civil Rights

Click the link below to download this six panel exhibit.

Tacoma’s Struggle for Civil Rights

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day    Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 1   

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 5

“Washington Stay Home Society” programs are generously supported by Columbia Bank.

Challenging History: Racism and City Development’s Impact on Washington’s Health Today