Birmingham events to honor MLK

Birmingham events to honor MLK
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin speaks at last year's Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast. (contributed)

Numerous groups and organizations have planned events in Birmingham to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. City offices, with the exception of police, fire and 911, will be closed today for the national King holiday.

Some of the events for today and the rest of the month include:

Monday, Jan. 20

  • The lineup for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s traditional MLK March from City Hall to Kelly Ingram Park will be at 11 a.m. The march will start at 11:30 a.m. Once marchers reach Kelly Ingram Park, they will enter Sixteenth Street Baptist Church for a rally. Contact Bishop Calvin W. Woods Sr. for more information at 205-937-5679.
  • Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church will be the site of events honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Michael Tomberlin / Alabama NewsCenter)

    The SCLC will host a civil rights rally at noon at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, 1530 Sixth Ave. North. The guest speaker will be the Rev. Michael Wesley of Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

  • The SCLC’s annual MLK “Love Feast: Feed The Homeless and Senior Citizens” will be at 2 p.m. at Boutwell Auditorium, 1930 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. Contact Bishop Calvin Woods at 205-937-5679 or [email protected] or the Rev. Timothy Woods at 205-324-8202. This is a free event.
  • More than 2,000 high school student-athletes will compete in the MLK Invitational at the Birmingham CrossPlex, 2337 Bessemer Road. The event will start at 8 a.m. Athletes will all march around the track at 10 a.m. Admission will be charged. For more information, visit
  • The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will host “MLK Day 2020: King’s Dream in 20/20 Vision’’ from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with live performances, music, games and giveaways. There will be free admission and extended hours. The institute is at 520 16th St. North. For more information, contact Joi Brown at [email protected] or visit
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. will host a wreath-laying ceremony in Kelly Ingram Park at 11 a.m. in honor of King, their fraternity brother.
  • For the past 19 years, residents of Birmingham and surrounding areas have donated volunteer hours to give back to the community on MLK Jr. Day of Service, which will start at 1 p.m. Want to help? Register for Hands on Birmingham’s  “MLK Jr. Day of Service” at For more information, contact Tawanna Willoughby at [email protected].
  • The “UAB MLK Day of Service” will be at UAB’s rec center, 1501 University Blvd. For more information, contact Andrea Bennett, UAB coordinator for Leadership & Service, at 205-934-8023 or [email protected]. Registration for this event will be at the rec center.
  • The “MLK Day 2020: Vistas Serving the City of Birmingham.” For more information, contact Alicia Lumpkin at [email protected], or call 205-254-8025.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with free admission, extended hours and a variety of special events. (Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute)

Tuesday, Jan. 21    

A discussion titled “History as Education, Entertainment or Propaganda: Should how we tell the story matter?” will be held at 6 p.m. at the UAB Hill Student Center Alumni Theater. The event is free. For more information, contact Brandon Wolfe at [email protected].

In recent years, there have been ongoing debates, commentary and criticism around a number of retold historical events. An example includes the word “slaves” being replaced in textbooks with words such as “workers,” “immigrants” or “indentured servants” as a way to describe slavery in America. Another example is Hollywood blockbuster films taking creative liberties to add fictional characters and plot lines to make movies more inspirational and palatable for the audience. This event will examine such examples, look at what impact these changes have on today’s culture and answer the overarching question, “Should how we tell the story matter?”

Wednesday, Jan. 22 

The Second Annual UAB School of Medicine MLK Celebration will be at noon at Volker Hall, Lecture Room A, first floor. The address is 1670 University Blvd. The event is free. Lunch will be provided for the first 100 people. The Miles College choral group will perform several selections. Two students will present reflections on King. Speakers are also scheduled. For more information, contact Erica Brown at [email protected].

Join downtown Birmingham Public Library’s archivist Jim Baggett as he leads a show-and-tell journey that looks at King’s early life, celebrating King’s vision of unity and love. Baggett’s “Live the Dream’’ presentation will take place at 3:30 p.m. at Avondale Library.

A free screening of “Just Mercy’’ will be shown for UAB students at 7 p.m. at the Edge Movie Theater, 7001 Crestwood Blvd. Students must show their UAB ID to attend.

Saturday, Jan. 25

The MLK Word from the Mountain Top Oratory Contest Competition winners will appear at 3 p.m. at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 520 16th St. North.

Each year, local high school and college students are invited to participate in the “Word from the Mountaintop” Oratory Contest to honor King’s legacy. The purpose of the oratory competition is to recognize and give high school and college students the opportunity to reflect on King’s words while connecting his message to issues facing the nation in the 21st century. For more information, visit

Through Jan. 31 

The Smithfield Library will present its annual film festival honoring King. All showings are free. Remaining showings include “Boycott” Jan. 24 at 4 p.m. and “Get on The Bus” Jan. 31 at 4 p.m.

This story originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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