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Organizations have many MLK Day activities lined up

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Monday, Jan. 17, 2011

For many workers, Monday may be just another day off, to sleep in, stay warm inside and relax. Yet, many Pittsburgh-area attractions are inviting people of all races to come visit them to celebrate Monday's honoree: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"There's no question about the contribution that Dr. King made," says Shaunda Miles, director of programming and cultivation for the August Wilson Center, Downtown, which is hosting some Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. "We like to celebrate and educate people with regard to African-American culture. In that celebration, we also like to find ways to let people know that we are more alike than different."

It is important for people to remember and honor the legacy of King, who was assassinated by a gunman on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., she says.

"I think people could tend to have that feeling of, 'I'm just going to stay in the house,' " Miles says. "This is the time ... to come out and dialogue with other people, and remind ourselves that we are a nation that faces a lot of tragedy, but we are overcomers."

Alecia Shipman, cultivation associate for the center, agrees.

"I'm just excited that people can actually use this day not only to acknowledge his (contributions), but the legacy he continues to have in current society," she says.

Following are some of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities planned.

• "Civil Rights Superheroes," a new exhibit, opens on Monday at the August Wilson Center. The exhibit is based on the 1958 comic book, "Civil Rights Superheroes: Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story," and runs through April 2. The exhibit is designed to show people how comic books and cartoons inspired everyday people to join the civil rights movement, and how that movement continues in contemporary international peace movements. The collection includes letters from Dr. King, editorial cartoons from the era, and more.

Monday is also Free Community Day at the center, in honor of King, with free admission and activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities, including a mural workshop and live performances, promote the event's theme, "Where Do You Stand?" Details: 412-258-2700 or .

• Venture Outdoors, and the Student Conservation Association on Monday will be celebrating "MLK Day in the Park" with free family activities on Monday. From 1 to 4 p.m., visitors can go ice skating -- and snowshoeing, weather permitting -- at Schenley Park Ice Rink. They also can create traditional African banners and other projects with local artists, and enjoy some refreshments. Disc jockey Nick Nice will play family-friendly tunes. Reservations for groups are recommended. Details: 412-255-0564 or .

• The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty on Monday is celebrating the annual "East Liberty Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." with the theme "I'm Making Peace With ... ." The event features free music and dance performances from groups including YMCA Westinghouse Lighthouse Project and Alumni Theater Company. Free activities for kids, including arts and crafts, will be included. All activities will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Then, from 4 to 8 p.m., guests can march over to the Union Project for the 9th Annual "MLK Jr. Day Celebration." This is another free event with live entertainment, historical re-enactments and more. Details: 412-363-3000 or .

• The Pittsburgh Glass Center in Friendship on Monday will host "MLK Family Fun Day" with a day full of heat-defying art and hands-on activities for the whole family. Free glass-blowing demonstrations will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and visitors can try their hands at making glass beads or fused glass tile for $15. Details: 412-365-2145 or .

• Young Pittsburghers and their parents on Monday can enjoy the "Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration" at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, on the North Side. Activities take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and include "King For a Day" with the Saturday Light Brigade, and live music by the Nia Steel Pan Ensemble. Activities are included with general museum admission of $11, $10 for ages 2-18 and senior citizens, and free for age 2 and younger. Details: 412-322-5058 or .

• Several area choirs will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the "Let Freedom Sing!" concert, which will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sixth Mount Zion Church, 6556 Shetland Ave., Lincoln-Larimer, and at 7 p.m. Monday at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville. The concert opens with a performance by the Pittsburgh Gospel Choir, followed by jazz musician Joe Negri. The show concludes with a performance by a huge choir that includes singers from Wilkinsburg, Norwin and Franklin Regional high schools. Admission is free, but donations to benefit the "Build the Dream" project -- which funds construction for a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. -- will be accepted at the door. Details: .



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