Jan 18

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration 2021

9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Online
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration 2021

Join us for a virtual birthday celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., honoring his memory and work to ensure civil rights for all people. This year is the event’s 36th anniversary and embraces the theme “If not us, then who? If not now then when?”

Santa Monica College (SMC) and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition are pleased to announce the first-ever virtual birthday celebration for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

The free event — one of the largest and most diverse celebrations of its kind in Southern California — will be held online at 9 a.m. on Monday, January 18, at mlkjrwestside.org. Keynote speakers will be the Honorable Karen Bass and Tamika Butler, Esq. 

The event is presented by The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition, a nonprofit coalition whose mission is consistent with Dr. King's legacy. Event sponsors include Santa Monica College, Santa Monica College Associates, SGI-USA, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council, and a variety of other organizations, individuals, and corporate contributors. 

This year’s celebration marks the event’s 36th anniversary and embraces the theme “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” The multi-ethnic, interfaith program will include inspirational remarks, and performances by the Santa Monica High School Choir and the Peace Player Drummers. The program also features the presentation of education awards to local students and a Community Light Award to The Village Nation, an organization whose mission is to "boost the capacity of caring adult mentors and support them in creating culturally responsive learning environments that engage and inspire African American youth, and encourage them to embrace their natural intelligence and leadership capabilities." 

The annual Community Involvement Fair — showcasing a variety of community organizations — will follow the event and be held on the website. 

Congressmember Bass — now in her fifth term representing California’s 37th Congressional District— is currently Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of the United States House of Representatives. She serves on the House Judiciary Committee, as well as the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she is Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. In 2008, as a member of the California State Assembly, Bass became the first African-American woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker of any state legislature. Bass, who grew up in the Venice/Fairfax area of Los Angeles that she represents today in Congress, is a graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, and the USC Masters Program in Social Work.

Tamika Butler is a national expert and lecturer on issues related to the built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion. She is the founder and principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting, and uses her background in law, community organizing, and nonprofit leadership to shine a light on inequality, inequity, and social justice. She is the former Director of Planning, Equity and Inclusion at Toole Design, and previously served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a nonprofit that builds parks and gardens in park-poor communities across Greater Los Angeles to help address social and racial equity, and improve wellness. Butler earned a J.D. at Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. 

“Unfinished Work,” a new youth-oriented event presented by New Roads School in conjunction with the Westside Coalition, will also be held online at 6 p.m. on January 14 at newroads.org/MLK. The virtual community event will feature young orators, filmmakers, musicians, and artists, and encourage and welcome young people to think deeply, and creatively express themselves to challenge and help dismantle institutional and structural racism. 

Details about the birthday celebration, "Unfinished Work," and other related special events are available at: 

  • The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Westside Coalition website mlkjrwestside.org
  • Facebook at mlkwestside.org 
  • Instagram at MLKWestside 
  • Twitter: @Westsidemlk 

Additional information may be requested by sending email to mlkwestside@icloud.com or by calling 818-207-3934 or 310-434-4100.