MLK Day + Upcoming Social Justice Talks & Events in NYC

By Alison Durkee

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up on January 15. Of course, in our current political age, the struggle for social justice that King devoted his life to is far from over. Celebrate King’s legacy and keep up the fight with these upcoming social justice events in NYC.

New Yorkers hoping to celebrate King this January will have the opportunity to acknowledge his legacy through word and song, as the Riverside Church continues their annual celebration of the civil rights leader on January 14. On MLK Day itself, BAM in Brooklyn will mark the occasion through their own annual Brooklyn tribute to King, which brings together civil rights activists, civic leaders, musicians,  and the public for a commemoration of King’s life and legacy.

That same day, BAM will also acknowledge our society’s current racial struggles with a book launch event for When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and author asha bandele. The Museum of Jewish Heritage will mark MLK Day as well with Soul to Soul, a concert exploring the struggles of both the Jewish and African-American people with songs in Yiddish and English and music from the Civil Rights era.

Fighting for social justice is intertwined with our democracy, as Americans use freedom of speech and expression to take action for their rights. Learn more about the nature of democracy itself at BAM on February 8 with a seminar series on questioning democracy that considers historical texts on democracy and their contemporary relevance. To take on another major concept necessary to activism, join the New York Society for Ethical Culture on January 7 as they grapple over the nature of justice itself. On January 8, Bluestockings will host an event exploring one of the more controversial parts of our democratic government – the Second Amendment – in a discussion tracing its history through the lens of the Americans of color who guns have targeted the most.

From the #MeToo movement and wave of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men to the ongoing debate over reproductive rights, women have plenty to fight for in 2018. One of the leading figures of our current cultural moment, actress Rose McGowan, will discuss her fight against harassment and assault with journalist Ronan Farrow at an event on February 1. Reproductive rights, meanwhile, will be the subject of an event on January 16 considering the legacy of Roe vs. Wade, while Caveat will put a playful spin on learning about women’s rights when they host Reproductive Rights and Dirty Bingo with Lady Parts Justice League on January 19. On January 20, women in NYC can once again take to the streets to stand in solidarity and fight for their rights at the Women’s March on NYC, which will demand equality for all humans.

In addition to protests or political action, the arts are another key way to fight for social justice. The Public Theater will combine performance with a thought-provoking discussion on the concept of truth in society at Who Needs Truth: An Evening of Politics and Performance on February 5, while CUNY will host a daylong symposium exploring theatre and political resistance on January 12. Those hoping to take on the current political and social moment on the screen, meanwhile, can try their hand at dramatic writing at a workshop focused on Screenwriting in the Age of Trump on January 21.

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