Saturday, May 25, 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. socks on sale in 2022 at Cambridge Clogs, between Porter and Harvard squares. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The life and work of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored in various ways this week, including at a commemoration and remembrance organized by the Cambridge Peace Commission at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 838 Massachusetts Ave., in the Riverside neighborhood near Central Square.

The program includes greetings from Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Yi-An Huang; remarks by Gail Packer, executive director of the Community Settlement and Dispute Center; and musical performances, including by gospel soloist Christina DeVaughn.

Packer, a nationally known expert in mediation and alternative dispute resolution, is “uniquely positioned to help us think about rebuilding connections and community while recognizing the continuing impact of the giant triplets of racism, militarism and materialism that Dr. King spoke and wrote about,” according to organizers.

An MLK Day community walk organized by the Many Helping Hands 365 organization follows at 1 p.m., starting from Starlight Square, 84 Bishop Allen Drive, Central Square, for a reflection on how King might respond to current events and the challenges and successes of the Riverside and Cambridgeport neighborhoods. This is the second year for the event, a pandemic-era innovation that drew 300 people for its 2022 tour through Cambridgeport, said Many Helping Hands 365 volunteer Ellen Curren. This year’s walk includes the Central Square Church (where MLK spoke in 1960), Cambridge Community Center, Pentecostal Tabernacle Church and St. Augustine’s Church, as well as significant art installations, recreational sites and Black-owned businesses that tell of the neighborhoods’ history.

In-person and off-site service projects follow from 2 to 5 p.m. and throughout the week. Pre-registered participants will volunteer on MLK Day at one of three Central Square locations to “lend a helping hand” to neighbors in need. Limited space will be available a Cambridge City Hall, YWCA Cambridge and Cambridge’s Senior Center in an effort to keep everyone healthy. Masks will be encouraged.

Volunteers will make fleece blankets and scarves for homeless children, teens and adults in Cambridge and Somerville and Valentine’s Day cards for isolated elders, veterans and military personnel.

Another way to enjoy the day

For MLK Monday, the Belmont World Film Festival’s 20th Family Film Festival sets up at The Brattle Theatre with a series of shorts from Weston Woods honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including “Martin’s Big Words,” narrated by the late Michael Clarke Duncan; “Coretta Scott”; “Rosa”; and “Amazing Grace,” about a black girl who wins the part of Peter Pan.


Collection projects led by MHH365 include neighborhood and workplace food drives for pantries in Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea and Lowell; and clothing drives and a book drive for local nonprofits. This citywide event benefits thousands of people via nearly 80 Cambridge and Somerville service organizations.


An MLK-themed breakfast conversation, part of a series curated by MHH365 founder organizer Lori Lander, takes place virtually at 8 to 9 a.m. with no registration needed.


Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of books including “On Juneteenth and “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family” is keynote speaker at the city’s 48th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cambridge Main Library, 449 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge. (The event will be livestreamed by 22-CityView, the municipal cable channel.) Registration is required.

Her lecture coincides with the introduction of a Black Voices collection at the Central Square Branch Library that includes popular and contemporary works by Black authors, creators, artists, actors and characters. Suggestions for additions to the collection are welcomed through the Library’s Suggest-a-Purchase form. A Black Voices Book Group has been created to highlight the collection and will meet in March to discuss “On Juneteenth” on a date to be announced in February.

Feb. 11

Cambridge’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People holds its 37th annual MLK Brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Walker Memorial (also known as Building 50) at 142 Memorial Drive, Area II. There’s a $75 general admission charge for talk, which has the theme “Realizing the Dream: Our Collective Fight Against Racism.”

Closed Monday

City of Cambridge offices, libraries and senior centers close Jan. 16 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, according to a Thursday email from City Hall. Curbside collection service will be suspended and parking meters and other municipal parking payments will not be required.

Curbside collection of recycling, compost and trash will be one day behind schedule for the rest of that week. (Street cleaning and yard waste pickup are suspended for the winter season and resumes in April.) Cambridge Cemetery at 76 Coolidge Ave. will have gates open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the Cemetery Administrative Office will be closed.

Post Offices will also close Monday, and street delivery will be limited to guaranteed overnight parcels, with no collection of mail. Full operations resume Tuesday.

Tom Meek contributed to this report.

Feature image of an MLK-themed mural in Central Square is by Many Helping Hands 365.