Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Family Festival at Peabody Museum

Tell us what this holiday means to you and how you will celebrate. One way to celebrate is with the free 17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice Family Festival in New Haven.


Monday, Jan. 21, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

For some, the national holiday honoring the prominent civil rights activist is a time to give back and serve the community, be it through removing graffiti or picking up litter in a local park.

For others, it’s an opportunity to educate themselves about King and his life's work. And for others, it’s a time to just kick back and enjoy the prolonged weekend.

 So, tell us—What does Martin Luther King Jr. Day mean to you? What are you doing to commemorate King’s legacy?

17th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental
and Social Justice Family Festival

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection once again is co-sponsoring the 17th annual two-day family festival Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice.

This free festival takes place on Sunday, January 20, from noon to 4:30 p.m. and Monday, January 21, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven.

The festival will focus on environmental and social justice, civil rights, nonviolent advocacy, equality of resources and community enrichment.

“The tradition of honoring the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. continues at the Peabody Museum for the 17th consecutive year, providing educational activities, performances and interactive displays featuring environmental issues in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  “His efforts to ensure environmental and social justice for all people serves as a model for us as individuals and for communities as a whole.”

The two days of educational activities for families and people of all ages and backgrounds include performances by members of the New Haven community and from around the world, including music, poetry, children’s storytelling and dance.

On Sunday, January 20th, from noon to 3 p.m., teens from the Yale Peabody Museum's EVOLUTIONS After School Program will host their 4th annual event celebrating the legacy of Dr. King.

In this interactive workshop, teens and young adults will have an opportunity to celebrate the progress we have made toward Dr. King's vision for a just society, and discuss the struggles that we still face in achieving equality for all. In this interactive workshop, we will share some inspiring words of great civil rights leaders, provide opportunities for meaningful discussion of complex current events, and help participants take action on social issues that are important in their own lives.

On Sunday, January 20, from 3:30 to 4:30 pm, Mustafa S. Ali will give a talk on “Environmental Justice in the 21st Century: Moving from Injustice to Justice”. 

This presentation will explore the trials and successes of the environmental justice movement and how environmental justice stakeholders are moving forward to create healthy, sustainable, culturally enriched and economically viable communities.

Highlights of this year’s celebration include:

Sunday, January 20:

World Stage Performances (Great Hall of Dinosaurs)

1:00–1:30             Neighborhood Music School Premier Jazz Ensemble

2:00–2:30             East Culture Arts, Inc. — Chinese dance

2:45–3:30             Kouffin Kanecke Company — Traditional West African dance and drumming     performance

3:50–4:30             White-Eyed Lizard Band — Caribbean steel drum island music

Auditorium (3rd Floor)

12:00–3:00          “Dr. King's Dream: Past, Present and Future” – Teen Summit

3:30–4:30        Environmental Justice in the 21st Century Moving from Injustice to Justice with Mustafa S. Ali

Storytelling (3rd Floor, North American Dioramas)

1:30–2:15             Joy Donaldson — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Word and Song

2:30–3:15             Waltrina Kirkland Mullins — Never Thought I’d See the Day:  Dr. King, The 50s, 60s, and Today Remembered

Monday, January 21, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

World Stage Performances (Great Hall of Dinosaurs)

11:00–11:40        Boogie Chillun

12:00–12:30        New Haven Breakdancers

12:45–1:00      Hillhouse Cheerleaders

1:00–1:30             New Haven Breakdancers

2:00–2:40             Taikoza — Japanese drumming

3:00–3:15        Hamden Academy of Dance & Music

3:15–3:30             The Solar Youth Drummers

3:45–4:30             Michael Mills — Drumming performance and drum circle finale

North American Dioramas (3rd Floor)

11:30 & 12:00 Dr. King’s time in Connecticut – Documentary by Simsbury High School (space limited)

12:30–1:30          Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Movie (space limited)

2:00 & 2:30          Dr. King’s Time in Connecticut – Documentary by Simsbury High School (space limited)

Auditorium (3rd Floor)

11:00–12:30    Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Community Poetry Open Mic — An opportunity for people of all ages to share their original poetry or rap and speak their minds on issues of justice and injustice. Pre-registration required.

1:00–4:30             Annual Invitational Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Poetry Slam.

Contact Info

Contact the Yale Peabody Museum at (203) 432-6646 or visit www.peabody.yale.edu/events/mlk/

Parking is free at all Yale University parking lots.

The free family festival events are co-sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Citizens Bank Foundation, the Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs, Subway and Stop & Shop.

“The Connecticut DEEP is dedicated to honoring the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy and is committed to addressing environmental and health equity into its core programs and is now poised to demonstrate that a sound integrated approach to environmental, public health, natural resources and energy policy can lead to sustainable economic growth and job creation,” added Commissioner Esty.

The Holiday's History

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, now a U.S. holiday, took 15 years to create.

Legislation was first proposed by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) four days after King was assassinated in 1968.

The bill was stalled, but Conyers, along with Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-New York), pushed for the holiday every legislative session until it was finally passed in 1983, following civil rights marches in Washington. 

Then-president Ronald Reagan signed it into law. Yet it was not until 2000 that every U.S. state celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by its name. Before then, states like Utah referred to the holiday more broadly as Human Rights Day. 

Now, the Corporation for National and Community Service has declared it an official U.S. Day of Service.

TELL US: What does MLK Day mean to you? Tell us in the comments.

L Marina C Cabanilla Maza January 19, 2013 at 12:26 PM
It means honoring mlk's non-violence by creating the biggest human peace sign wt hundreds or thousands of people after mlk parade @kapiolani park honolulu hawaii 12 noon pictures via top 'o diamond head & helicoptor by noon on mlk day. Yeahy! !!


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