Many Helping Hands 365’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events dominate the holiday’s commemoration in Cambridge. (Photo: Many Helping Hands 365 via Eventbrite)

Commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be different this year as a result of the coronavirus, but there is still plenty going on. The centerpiece, as always, is Helping Hands 365’s Day of Service, which has become a Week of Service.The organization’s work around the holiday, which traditionally draws thousands of people to work on projects benefiting dozens of nonprofits, is now in its 11th year.

Week of Service events are free, with most held virtually via the Zoom teleconferencing platform (registration for all is here). But there are also weeklong, hands-on but socially distanced service projects seeking volunteers: neighborhood food drives and diaper collections for food pantries in Cambridge, Somerville and Chelsea; and neighborhood clothing and book collections. Information for the entire week is here.

There are are other events as well spread across several days. Here’s what we know of:

Kiese Laymon, author of ‘Heavy’

7 p.m. Thursday. The Cambridge Public Library names its virtual appearance by Kiese Laymon, author of the award-winning memoir “Heavy: An American Memoir” as an MLK Day event, as it’s part of the library’s Our Path Forward series examining issues important to the health of our democracy. Laymon will talk with with Jesse McCarthy, an assistant professor at Harvard University, about “Heavy,” in which Laymon writes “eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi,” according to the author’s website. Register to participate here.


Holiday closings

Monday. City offices will close for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, and payments at parking meters and parking pay stations will not be required. There will be no curbside collection of trash and recycling, and collection will be one day behind schedule for the rest of the week. Gates at Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., West Cambridge, will be open 7 a.m. until dusk, but the cemetery administrative office will be closed.

Post offices will be closed, with street delivery limited to guaranteed overnight parcels and no collection of mail.

Many Helping Hands 365 Racial Justice Conversations

2 to 5 p.m. Monday. In partnership with My Brothers Keeper Cambridge and YWCA Cambridge, the service organization launches its Week of Service with online conversation. First off is a half-hour welcome gathering with Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui led by Elijah Booker and Niko Emack of My Brothers Keeper Cambridge. From 2:30 to 3:25 p.m. comes “The State of Activism” with a panel exploring where we go from here. From 3:30 to 4:25 p.m. comes “From Protest to Policy! How Youth Can Take Action to Make Change in Their Community” with Arielle Jennings, executive director of Generation Citizen Massachusetts, leading a session with Lowell High School teacher Jessica Lander. Finally, there’s a 4:30 p.m. MLK Day End of Day Gathering.

Many Helping Hands 365 hands-on service projects

2:30 to 4:30 pm Monday. Choose a project: Valentine-making to distribute to elders, homeless adults and others in the community; or scarf- and blanket-making to distribute to homeless children, teens and adults.


‘Markers and Reminders: MLK to BLM’

3 p.m. Tuesday. The Harvard Square Business Association says it plans to have several speakers address “essential aspects of our local and national history with regard to black icons and activists.” (A portrait of singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone by artist Lennie Peterson has been installed in the Out of Town News Kiosk in Harvard Square “as a prelude to Martin Luther King’s Day,” the association says.) City councillor E. Denise Simmons will talk about the significance of local landmarks, including the Prince Hall memorial on Cambridge Common, followed by an interview with Imari Paris Jeffries, executive director of King Boston, about plans for the Center for Economic Justice and the design for “Embrace,” a three-story memorial dedicated to King. Registration is here.

Many Helping Hands 365 presents ‘MLK and the Leadership of Women: Women in the Civil Rights Movement Then and Now’

4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday. On the eve of inaugurating our first female vice president (and first vice president of color), YWCA Cambridge leaders convene a conversation remembering the women who worked with King in the civil rights movement, reflecting on how far we’ve come and where we need to go.

Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition and Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse present ‘Equity in Volunteerism’ panel discussion

5 to 6:30p.m. Tuesday. Local and nationally recognized experts answer questions around thorny issues of inequity and racism that are revealed in the structure and practice of volunteer service – and talk about how the space can instead be used for “positive individual growth and social change.” Panelists include consultant Sue Carter-Kahl, Bernette Dawson of the Cambridge Families of Color Coalition and Jerome Tennille of Architecting Social Good. Register at bit.ly/FutVolCamb.


Many Helping Hands 365 presents ‘MLK as a Moral Leader: The Role of Houses of Faith in the Civil Rights Movement Then and Now.’

8 to 9 a.m. Wednesday. A talk led by Many Helping Hands 365.


Many Helping Hands 365 presents ‘MLK as a Radical’

6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Panelists for this month’s edition of “The Public Square: Cambridge Conversations” include Melissa Colón of Tufts University; Georgia state Rep. El Mahdi-Holly; Chicago alderman Michael Scott Jr.; and My Brothers Keeper Cambridge team member Frank Barnes. The show is a collaboration between My Brother’s Keeper and municipal television channel 22-CityView.


Many Helping Hands 365 presents ‘MLK and Housing Justice’

Noon to 1 p.m. Friday. A conversation addressing redlining and housing injustice in Cambridge today, with a look at “what comes after the Affordable Housing Overlay?” and how to better ensure affordable housing for residents of all incomes. My Brothers Keeper Cambridge talks with leaders of A Better Cambridge and city councillor Marc McGovern.

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Please consider making a financial contribution to maintain, expand and improve Cambridge Day.
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