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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Family Fun: Honor MLK at home and all year long

Jan. 17, 2021 Updated Mon., Jan. 18, 2021 at 11:28 a.m.


While Spokane’s annual rally and march honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. won’t be happening, thanks to the pandemic, there’s still plenty to do to honor his life and legacy.

The Rev. Happy Watkins, paraphrasing one of King’s sermons, called on each person to be “a drum major for peace, a drum major for justice, a drum major for righteousness.”

And doing those things takes action every day of the year, not just on the holiday honoring King, said Freda Gandy, director of Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

“We won’t have the big march, we won’t have the big gathering,” Watkins said. But, “We’re not going to forget him, we’re still going to keep him in our hearts.”

Here are some things families can do to honor King’s life and legacy:

Be kind. For Watkins, kindness is the key.

“We just need to continue to love each other and respect each other and help each other to the next step,” said Watkins, who regularly gives King’s “I Have a Dream” speech for local events.

Pay attention, he said. And do things that pay it forward. Even something as simple as buying coffee for the person behind you in line.

“It’s those kind of little things that make a difference,” he said.

Volunteer or donate. Once the decision was made to cancel the traditional events, Gandy went to work finding service projects people can do from home.

One is to create winter care packages in a gallon zip-top bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, pair of socks, hat, gloves, disposable face mask and protein bar. Gandy said the kits would be handed out to people who use the center and its food bank.

The center is also seeking donations for its food bank, which provided 600,000 pounds of food to people in need in 2020, Gandy said. Rice, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread are especially in need right now.

The kits or food donations can be delivered to the center at 500 S. Stone St. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The center is also seeking book donations. There’s a list on the center’s website,, under the “current events” tab. It includes links to the books on Amazon, or people can buy them at local bookstores and deliver them to the center.

Gandy said she’d love to have multiple copies of each book so she can send them home with children when they ask.

Read. Families can read the books on the MLK Center’s wish list together. Or, the Spokane Public Library and Spokane County Library District have reading lists on their websites and in the digital library collections.

Get creative. Pick up a canvas from the MLK Center by Tuesday, then paint it with your own interpretation of the theme “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” or a portrait of King.

Paintings need to be returned from the center by Feb. 25, and they will be displayed there. Once COVID-19 restrictions are eased, Gandy said the public will be invited in to see the artwork.

Instead of marching, run. The MLK Center is sponsoring a Run for Justice 5K Virtual Race. Individuals or families can sign up at Participants can run or walk their own route any time Monday through Jan. 28.

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