Celebrating MLK Jr. Day through Action

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

– Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Now recognized as a National Day of Service, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day of learning, reflection, and activism. Here’s our abbreviated guide to celebrating MLK day in Michigan, with a local food focus: 

Attend a Virtual Event 

Like everything else this last year, many MLK Jr. day events are going virtual! Here are a few happenings in Michigan, as well as across the country. 

University of Michigan Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium
Jan. 18, 10-11:30am EST
All are welcome to tune into the keynote lecture with Gloria House, poet, essayist, educator and human rights activist, and Malik Yakini, co-founder and Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN)
Click here to stream the Keynote

The Charles H Wright Museum of African American History MLK JR Day Keynote Lecture
Jan. 18, 1-2:30pm EST
Tune into this keynote lecture from Yamiche Alcindor, the PBS White House Correspondent as part of their “We the People Speak: No Justice, No Peace” virtual celebration.
Click here to stream the Keynote

National Civil Rights Museum King Day
Jan. 18, 1pm and 7pm EST 
Featuring musical performances, a lecture from Dr. Hasan Jeffries, an Associate Professor at Ohio State University and the editor of Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, a children’s storytime, and more! 
Click here to stream the Event

Make an Impact

There are many ways to take action that will have a direct impact on your community. Whether you’re able to commit your time or donate needed items, it is important to add your voice to the continuing progress of civil rights.

Volunteer Opportunities 
Not sure how to help out? Here’s a compiled list for this Day of Service. We also recommend checking in on your favorite organizations to see what other opportunities are available.

Food Equity and Sovereignty Resources from Soul Fire Farm
Check out these policy-focused action steps to create a more just food system. 

Talk to your Senators and Reps
Encourage elected officials to support the H.R. 40 Bill to establish commission to review proposals for reparations for Black communities.


If you’re able, a dollar donation is a great way to support the work of these organizations in your community and your state. 

Here are a few organizations to support:

• Your local NAACP chapter
• South East Market: A new black woman-owned grocery store in Grand Rapids dedicated to providing healthy food through an equitable lens  
Linc Up: A community-based non-profit dedicated to  mobilizing and uplifting communities in Grand Rapids 
Detroit Black Community Food Security Network: Builds food security, self-reliance, and justice in Detroit’s Black community 

Learn and Reflect 

Martin Luther King Jr. lectured, organized and inspired throughout his lifetime. In addition to refreshing your memory on his accomplishments, we encourage you to explore and honor the many Black voices who aided in his work and who continue to fight for justice and equity for all.

Celebrating MLK by Remembering Some of the Women who Fed Him
Good southern food fueled the Civil Rights movement. Check out these short bios on the women chefs throughout the South who made an impact through cooking.

Free Screening: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO 
Stream this 2017 award-winning film at no cost with your family. According to the Traverse City State Theater’s website, ““I Am Not Your Negro” is James Baldwin’s final plea and admonition to America to deal with our race problem. Much of the movie deals with the loss of his friends, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.”
Click here to stream for free

Black Culinary History 
An amazing collection of media celebrating the history of Black chefs who are building a foundation for the future. 
Check out their video bar

Why We Need Black Owned Food Media: Bite Podcast
“When we don’t own our media, we will not own our messages,” says Stephen Satterfield, the founder of the food culture magazine Whetstone. Listen to this discussion from Mother Jones Food Podcast, Bite.

What actions are you taking today that honor the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Every person, every business, and every organization has a voice – even us as a local food marketing firm. Each year, this day is an opportunity to use that voice to advocate for a better society locally and nationwide.

Emma Beauchamp is the Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at [email protected]

Photo : Caption reads, “[Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mathew Ahmann in a crowd.], 8/28/1963” Original black and white negative by Rowland Scherman.

Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (The National Archives and Records Administration). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service. ca. 1953-ca. 1978. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/542015