Ypsilanti organizations to host variety of events to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

From a jazz concert to a virtual book club, Ypsilanti-area organizations are offering many ways for community members to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day) on Monday, Jan. 16.

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) will host four days of mostly free MLK-related programming titled "Remembering the Dream," culminating in a keynote speech by physician Sampson Davis, co-author of a non-fiction book called "The Pact." EMU hosted two virtual book club sessions on "The Pact," and a final session will take place at this Zoom link from 10-11 a.m. Jan. 16 with Dr. Davis participating. 

Doris Fields, interim chief diversity officer for EMU, says the university often picks a speaker who has a book out, but this is the first time EMU has hosted a book club event. The book was co-written by Davis and his two childhood friends, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt. All three made a vow, as poor teens living in New Jersey, that they would become doctors. Two of them went on to become physicians, while the third is now a dentist.

"This is just an outstanding book," Fields says. "They talk about their strengths and weaknesses and how they came together as young men and decided to make a pact. Having that inspirational story on campus, for us, was just tremendous."

Davis' keynote speech during EMU's President's Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 16 will focus on Davis' experiences with health care systems and thoughts on health inequity and promoting healthy communities. The luncheon will take place at EMU's Student Center Ballroom, 900 Oakwood St. in Ypsilanti, and tickets are $30.

Other MLK events on the EMU campus include a kickoff event with speeches by faculty and students, music, and light refreshments. There will also be a two-day hybrid academic conference, with the first day held virtually and the second in-person.

Details about all of EMU's MLK Day offerings can be found here.

The Ypsilanti District Library (YDL) is also offering a number of events to celebrate MLK Day. Local artist Akili Jackson will perform a family-friendly hip-hop concert at 2 p.m. Jan. 16 at YDL's Superior branch, 1900 N. Harris Rd. in Superior Township, and attendees will have an opportunity to make crafts related to the civil rights movement afterward.

YDL's Whittaker branch, 5577 Whittaker Rd. in Ypsilanti Township, will host a jazz concert called "All Lives Stand Up" by Sean Dobbins and his band at 2 p.m. in the Community Room. 

YDL's Michigan Avenue branch, 229 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti, will host a "Hats for Homeless Persons" day of service from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Patrons are invited to make hats to distribute to Ypsilanti's Hope Clinic and Ann Arbor's Delonis Center. Later that evening, from 6-8 p.m., the Michigan Avenue branch will sponsor a "Young Black Writers" showcase featuring the poetry and fiction of three local Black authors. 

More information about all of YDL's MLK Day events can be found here.

For those who missed celebrating MLK Day on the 16th, Rep. Ronnie Peterson, in collaboration with the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County, will host a breakfast and program called "Why We Can't Wait" at 10 a.m. Jan. 21 at Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron St. in Ypsilanti. The event will feature a panel of five local speakers as well as keynote speaker Todd V. Ester, assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, email AACHMWC@gmail.com.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Image courtesy of EMU.
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