Where to learn and volunteer in Salem on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Next week, there will be several educational and volunteer opportunities in Salem to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, Jan. 16 is MLK day. Events include park clean ups, a car march and guest lectures.

City and state offices will be closed to observe the holiday.

Hear from speakers

The Salem-Keizer chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will host speakers before an organized car march down MLK Parkway. 

The annual celebration begins Monday at 1 p.m. in the Loucks Auditorium at the Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty St. S.E.. Dr. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, an activist and theologian, will talk about nonviolent resistance.

RJ Hampton, the local NAACP chapter president, will speak about historic Black leaders in the Salem area. Salem Mayor Chris Hoy will also speak, in addition to community groups and high school students. The event is free and open to the public.

At 4 p.m. the event will head outside to MLK Parkway, which was renamed in September, for a car march. Participants are encouraged to decorate their cars, and the march begins at the library and ends with snacks and beverages at The Kroc Center 1865 Bill Frey Dr N.E.

Food and readings

Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails at 508 State St. is offering soup and sandwiches between noon and 3 p.m. on Monday, with readings from its Library of Black Excellence. 

“A simple meal to share with friends and strangers, to break bread and barriers. The library will be open, and we will be listening to joyous things,” said the restaurant’s Facebook post about the event.

Willamette University Events

Willamette University is hosting several events to celebrate King between Jan. 18 and 20, with a theme of “Celebrating the African Diaspora.” Many of the events feature artist, activist and celebrity chef Bryant Terry.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, spoken word artist Sterling Cunio will perform on the subject of food scarcity. Terry will host a conversation and cooking demonstration. The event is from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the PNCA Mediatheque in Portland at 511 N.W. Broadway.

In Salem on Thursday, the MLK Book Club will host Terry, the co-author, curator and editor of “Black Food: Stories, Art & Recipes from Across the African Diaspora.”

The event is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the University’s Cone Chapel in Waller Hall at 950 State St. 

The University’s MLK Commemoration lecture will be on Friday, Jan. 20. Terry will do a plant-based cooking demonstration, followed by a book signing. The event is open to the public, and begins at 7 p.m. with doors at 6:30 p.m. at the Smith Auditorium, 270 Winter St S.E.

Volunteer at Englewood 

Volunteers plan to plant 20 trees and shrubs at Englewood Park Monday morning. The event, hosted by the Northeast Neighbors, will also include ivy removal and mulching.

The planting will be between 9 a.m. and noon. Registration is available online, or by signing up for the City of Salem’s parks volunteer mailing list.

Volunteers will be planting trees, pulling ivy and laurels and spreading bark chips. Englewood Park is located at 1260 19th St N.E.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.