Approaching this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am called to gather my thoughts more intentionally on what this day offers us in this particular moment in time. As one of the few Black stories acknowledged in US history books throughout childhood, the work of Dr. King cements him as a fixture in political and social change, and rightfully so. Reflecting on the images of marches, sit-ins and protests, I am floored by the courageous sacrifices and strong convictions of the thousands of Black people who put their bodies and well-being on the line for that work because they believed so deeply in it and because there were, and still are, few alternatives. This spirit echoes today in the efforts of Black community leaders, organizers, workers, writers, artists, teachers and families, and as such, to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to recognize the labor of our Black contemporaries, while standing fully in the reality that amid our celebration, we are also preparing to address our ongoing challenges.
—Jaleesa Johnston, Portland Art Museum Programs Lead
The Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday for staff. While we know that equity work is never-ending, we encourage people to consider the day as an opportunity to work within their community and invest in personal learning and growth around issues of equity and inclusion. Below is a selection of opportunities compiled by Museum and Film Center staff. We hope that you’ll join us.
A Day “In” Resources and Ideas
- Angela Davis at Oregon State University
- Live broadcast from Noon to 2 p.m. with The Numberz FM (online or at 96.7 in the Portland area)
- Don’t Shoot PDX: Annual MLK March for Human Dignity at Peninsula Park in N. Portland
- Fair Housing Council of Oregon: A History of Discrimination in Oregon
- Fair Housing Council of Oregon: Health, Hate, Housing, and History: Lessons at the Intersection of Our Two Pandemics
- The World Arts Foundation hosts their 36th annual tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
- Several MLK Day volunteer planting events around Portland
- Solve’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Portland Day of Service.
- Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership’s MLK Day Volunteer Planting Events.
- The MLK Virtual Racial Justice Teach-In presented by the Campus Collaborative (PCC). Resilience to Black liberation uprooting systems of inequity.
An Equity Update
As an update on the Museum and Northwest Film Center’s own ongoing equity work, we can share recent and continuing projects, partnerships, and staff support efforts.
- Residency partnership with The Numberz FM, a radio station whose primary purpose is to create media space for Black people and communities of color, in a city where gentrification has played a significant part in scattering their voices.
- Resist COVID/ Take 6! a public art and health campaign in partnership with artist Carrie Mae Weems, the City of Portland, and Multnomah County Health to draw attention to the outsized impact of COVID 19 on BIPOC communities.
- Financial and professional investment in support for the Museum and Film Center’s People of Color affinity group (more information to come).
- People of Color affinity group meets twice a month virtually.
- Completion of part one staff training with the Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center’s Bridge 13 to introduce and further knowledge around LGBTQ+ related issues and combat intolerance.
- Ongoing efforts to expand equity and inclusion to the Museum’s docent program.
Learn more about equity and inclusion at the Museum and Film Center.