Several organizations and schools in Atlanta, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs are hosting or participating in events to honor the legacy of civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned 91 Jan. 15.

While some events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of them are shifting online and some are offered in person.

Here’s a rundown:

Sandy Springs

The city of Sandy Springs’ 15th annual celebration to honor King’s legacy will be held Jan. 18 and will include a video tribute from local children. Admission is free.

“We are combating two pandemics: one related to the COVID outbreak: the other, the insidious disease of racism,” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said in a news release. “While a vaccine will help bring the coronavirus under control, we have work to do to eradicate racism in our society. The King holiday serves as an opportunity to pause and remember King’s guidance to talk and listen and learn from one another.”

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King Center

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta is hosting a series of free online events for the 2021 commemoration of King’s birthday.

It will include Nonviolence 365 training Jan. 11 and 12, the Beloved Community Global Summit Jan. 14 and 15, the Nonviolence 365 Teach-In K-12 Jan. 15, the Beloved Community Awards (formerly the Salute to Greatness Awards) ceremony Jan. 16 and the Beloved Community Commemorative Service Jan. 18.

Alliance Theatre

The Alliance Theatre in Midtown will host a free virtual performance of its 2021 Palefsky Collision Project Jan 18 at 2:30 p.m. Students from this past summer’s Palefsky Collision Project will “explore the issues and ideas that challenge their generation to change the world,” according to the Alliance’s website. The 45-minute performance will be followed by a talk-back session that is expected to last about 30 minutes.

Hands On Atlanta

Hands On Atlanta, a nonprofit that connects residents with volunteer opportunities, normally mobilizes 1,500 volunteers at 25 projects throughout metro Atlanta to unite in service for King Day. This year, Hands On Atlanta will instead offer ways for individuals to participate in a series of free in-person and online events to “unite in service” to honor King, its website stated.

Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead will host a series of free online events throughout the day on Jan. 18. It will include a look back at past celebrations and a special Author Talk featuring Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick with Atlanta Student Movement leaders Charles Black and the Rev. Otis Moss.


The city of Brookhaven will host its fifth annual MLK Day Dinner and Program Jan. 18 in the Apple Valley Road parking lot of the Brookhaven MARTA station, 1268 Apple Valley Road NE. The event, with featured speakers and “dinner in a bag,” will start at 5:30 p.m.

Previously held at the Lynwood Community Center, the former site of the segregated Lynwood Schools, the event moved outdoors this year because of the pandemic. The 2021 event will require masks and social distancing for all participants.

Speakers will include former DeKalb County CEO Liane Levetan, and a full lineup of speakers and performers will be announced soon.

“Despite all of the challenges we have faced throughout the year with the pandemic, we are moving forward with #BrookhavenStrong fortitude and still providing this forum to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and Lynwood’s proud history,” District 1 City Councilwoman Linley Jones said in a message posted to the city’s website. “We once again invite the public to join us for an evening that will surely be inspirational.”

Tickets are $10 each.

DeKalb County

DeKalb County will continue its longtime tradition of celebrating King’s life and legacy by hosting its first food distribution of 2021 alongside an abbreviated program Jan. 18.

Themed “The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community,” this year’s event marks the 53rd anniversary of King’s death and the 37th straight year DeKalb will host a King Day celebration, making it the longest running county-sponsored program in Georgia.

“The biggest threat to the creation of a ‘Beloved Community’ throughout DeKalb County is food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said in a news release. “We will commemorate King Day 2021 as a ‘day on, not a day off’ by supporting our fellow residents who are being negatively impacted by this deadly virus.”

The program will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will be streamed live via DCTV at At 10 a.m., immediately after the program, 3,500 DeKalb residents will receive one 20-pound box of fruit and vegetables and a 10-pound bag of chicken hindquarters. The COVID-19 care baskets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, at four locations:

♦ James R. Hallford Stadium, 3789 Memorial College Ave., Clarkston

♦ Former Kmart store parking lot at 5597 Buford Hwy. NE, Doraville

♦ Buck Godfrey Stadium, 2817 Clifton Springs Road, Decatur

♦ Big Miller Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 3800 Big Miller Grove Way, Stonecrest

Since May, DeKalb has provided fruit, vegetables and protein to about 26,000 families.

The county is utilizing federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to purchase the produce, ground beef and chicken.

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