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Celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Rochester

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Nazareth College
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There are several events scheduled throughout the Rochester area on Monday, Jan. 17 to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But similar to last year, a number of the events being held to celebrate the life of the civil rights leader will be held virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That includes what traditionally has been one of the larger celebrations, which has been held at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester. It is entitled, “Do We Have The Will,” and the keynote speaker is Lerone Martin, faculty director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

That virtual event can be viewed starting at 9 a.m. Monday at It is hosted by the Greater Rochester MLK Commission.

Another virtual event is at Nazareth College, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Reconciling the Dream: Transforming Communities Through Restorative Justice. Keynote speakers Elaine Spaull and Nolica Murray, from The Center for Youth, will share a case study of how their "Bridge to Peace" program has successfully integrated restorative practices.

The Nazareth event can be viewed on Zoom.

Also virtual on Monday is the 41st Annual Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event is organized by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East with support from the Strong Memorial Hospital Division of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The keynote speaker at the 1199 event is State Senator Samra Brouk, with performances by members of 1199 SEIU and community groups.

The Zoom link is:

There will be in-person activities at The Strong museum on Monday, for what the museum calls a “day of Compassion” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Local author Nykki Matthews will give live story readings of her book The Truth About Me, a story celebrating individuality at noon and 1 p.m. Also, local edutainer Miss Sweet Potato Pie will be there and there will be a story celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., at 2 p.m.

Also at The Strong, there will be members of Alfred University’s Art Force Five, a group that travels the country paying tribute to empowerment icons such as Harlem Renaissance leaders, suffragists, and others.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.