Skip to Main Content

City of Arlington Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in ADVANCING THE DREAM 2021 Celebration

In the latest installment of Ask Arlington, produced by the City of Arlington, MLK Committee Member Lemuel Randolph explains how celebrations will look different in 2021, and how Dr. King's dream lives on in our city:

What changes are the committee making due to the spread of COVID-19?

Randolph: Art and essay contest winners will be formally recognized at an opening event scheduled for Friday, Jan. 15. The celebration also includes a step show and drumline showcase and a poetry-meets-jazz event. We'll continue to post updates on the City's social media pages, and you can always visit for a complete calendar of events.

What's happening with the annual awards banquet?

Randolph: We're moving the annual awards a virtual event that will be open to anyone who wants to join the celebration in 2021. You're invited to join us Jan. 15 beginning at 6 p.m. to kick off the 2021 celebration. The theme is "Advancing the Dream: Unifying Our Nation." In addition to a discussion with the Unity Council, led by chair Dr. Jason Shelton, we will reveal and recognize our 2021 art and essay contest winners, the Advancing the Dream community award winners, collegiate scholarship recipients, United States Postal Service-dedicated stamp and much more.

How are you planning to organize the Day of Service on MLK Day?

Randolph: The Day of Service will still take place. It's a day on, not a day off. And our committee is offering some suggestions about ways to be of service. Call an elderly family member, pick up trash in your neighborhood, register people to vote. All activities need to be done in a safe manner during COVID-19. We also ask everyone participating to share their service projects on social media with hashtags #ArlingtonMLK and #MLKDayofService.

Advancing the Dream 2021

Friday January 15, 2021 at 6 p.m.
MLK Advancing the Dream Kick Off
The Celebration will feature a conversation led by Dr. Jason Shelton on the work of the Arlington Unity Council. Also during the event:

  • recognition of the youth art and essay scholarship winners
  • Collegiate Spirit of Service scholarship winners
  • annual unveiling of the USPS Postage Stamp, and the event sponsors
  • 2021 Community Award nominees and winners
  • special performances by Ashleigh Smith with a commissioned song to commemorate this year’s celebration, Ellis Elementary Choir, Young Junior High School Rap group

Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 10 a.m.
MLK Step Show and Drum Line

This year's Step Show has been expanded to include the Drum Lines from Arlington Independent School District marching bands and will feature past performances from winning step teams. The virtual format has also allowed for the inclusion of a history of the tradition of stepping in this exciting, entertaining and educational two hour production.

Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 7 p.m.
Poetry Meets Jazz with Verb Kulture

For 2021, this event has become open mic night at a virtual café hosted by Verb Kulture, artist, business owner, poet, actress and writer. The event will feature nationally known poets and a jazz band with an evening reflecting on Dr. King's legacy shared through music and the spoken word.

Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 6 p.m.
Hubert Moss Ecumenical Service

For nearly three decades, this service continues to evoke the memories of two servants of the church. One served as a global leader for justice and peace and the other served his community. In this spirit of cooperation, this service is a shared ecumenical experience for all. The keynote speaker is Dr. Dennis Wiles, senior pastor of the Arlington First Baptist Church. Click here for information on viewing online or attending in person. COVID-19 protocols will be strictly enforced.

Monday, January 18, 2021
Zeb Strong Jr. MLK Day of Service

What community service project will your organization or group choose? The group with highest involvement will be presented a plaque. Click here to learn more.

Monday, January 18, 2021 at 10 a.m.
Day of Service Festival Virtual Celebration 

The Zeb Strong Jr MLK Day of Service event is followed by the MLK Day of Service Festival Virtual Celebration in Downtown Arlington, where we celebrate and pay homage to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Learn more >

Shared in partnership with the City of Arlington.