McLean Community Center Moves Annual MLK Day Celebration Online

The McLean Community Center’s annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will look a little different this year.

Typically, MCC marks the occasion — which falls on Jan. 18 this year — by hosting live performances that explore the civil rights leader’s life and work, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still rendering in-person gatherings ill-advised, the organization is offering a trio of online programs instead.

“Our Beloved Community: Uniting Through Stories”

The most ambitious effort, this community service project invites older community members to share a story that they would like to pass on to younger generations, whether it is historically or just personally significant.

The stories will then be matched with volunteering “story adapters” who will interpret and adapt them into another art form, such as a short play, song, visual art, or a video.

The Alden Theatre, which is producing and overseeing all of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, will provide virtual workshops on Zoom for the story adapters to help them develop their projects.

“While we have all witnessed the damaging effects caused by COVID-19, it is our senior neighbors that have, perhaps, struggled the most due to the isolation in which we find ourselves,” MCC says. “Recognizing this is a problem easily solved, we look to the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the goal of uniting our community through outreach and personal connection.”

All residents of McLean and the surrounding areas can be a storyteller or adapter. MCC says any participants 13 years old or younger should have parental supervision when working on their stories.

Registration to become a storyteller or adapter is currently open with a deadline of Feb. 5. The deadline to submit story adaptations is Apr. 30.

Virtual Book Discussion

To observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Alden will also host a virtual book discussion on Zoom about “The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America” by Raymond Arsenault.

The history book focuses on an Apr. 9, 1939 concert at the Mall in Washington, D.C., by singer Marian Anderson, who became a key figure in the fight against racial segregation after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her perform at Constitution Hall because she was black.

Alden staff members will lead a conversation about the book on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. Preregistration is required and closes at 5 p.m. on Jan. 12.

“Seeing White”

The Alden staff will host a discussion group on “Seeing White,” the second season of the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies podcast Scene on Radio.

Hosted by Jon Biewen and guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, the 14-part series examines the history of racism and the concept of whiteness in the U.S. It can be found any podcast app or on the Scene on Radio website.

Focused on two or three episodes each, the discussion sessions will be held at 7 p.m. every Thursday from Jan. 14 to Feb. 18. Participants can register for individual sessions or for all of them.

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