7 events to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. in central Iowa


By Register Staff, Iowa Capital Dispatch

Des Moines and the rest of central Iowa celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with events marking Monday’s state and federal holiday honoring his birthday. Prayer breakfasts, roundtable discussions, volunteer opportunities and more take place on Jan. 17 to honor the Nobel Prize recipient. Here are seven.

City of West Des Moines MLK Day Celebration Event: Multicultural Reception and Roundtable


In collaboration with the Des Moines Partnership, the City of West Des Moines hosts a free roundtable discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion topics followed by a multicultural reception.

Appetizers and beverages will be served at 4 p.m. during a dance performance by Devine Dancers Studio dancer Hadley Harvey. Keynote speaker and DEI director for the City of West Des Moines Audrey Kennis speaks at 4:30 p.m. Programming concludes with the City of West Des Moines Human Rights Commission’s annual presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. West Des Moines Youth & Community Leadership awards.

For special accommodations or language assistance, email [email protected].

Time: Roundtable discussions begin at 3 p.m. Jan. 17. The program runs from 4 to 6 p.m.

Ticket Information: This event is free and open to public, but registration is required to attend roundtable discussions. Register at DSMpartnership.com/events.

Location: MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex, 6500 Grand Ave., West Des Moines


Ames/Story County Community MLK Day Celebration

Join the City of Ames for a free, hybrid in-person and virtual MLK Day program. The hour-long program kicks off with a performance by the Meeker Elementary Chorus and presentations of the humanitarian awards and high school essay contest winners, respectively. Lora and Russ Talbot Endowed Iowa State University Alumni Association president and CEO Jeff Johnson, Ph.D. is the event’s keynote speaker.

In-person attendees are required to wear masks and social distance, and a virtual stream of the program will be available on Facebook and YouTube.

Time: Jan. 17 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Ticket Information: This event is free to attend in-person or virtually.

Location: Ames City Auditorium, 520 Sixth St., Ames (north side of City Hall)

Grand View University keynote speaker

Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. will be speaking at the private, liberal arts university in the Viking Theatre at noon. In 1996, Moore started America & Moore LLC., a diversity education and research consulting firm providing anti-racist trainings and workshops. Moore also founded The Privilege Institute in 2014 as a nonprofit that provides events, resources and conferences to educate others on white privilege.

Time: Jan. 17 at noon

Ticket Information: Free

Location: 3839 E. 14th St., Des Moines

Zoom seminar hosted by Forest Library

Artist Jill Wells sharing a quality moment with the family of Evelyn K. Davis, her son Lawrence Davis, and her granddaughter Evelyn Davis.
Photo Tar Macias / Hola Iowa

Jill Wells — whose murals can be found scattered around public spaces in Des Moines from the YMCA to Blank Park Zoo — will be speaking over Zoom at Forest Library on Monday. Last year, Wells was a TEDx speaker discussing the impact of public works of art. Currently, she serves on the board of directors for Des Moines’ After School Arts Program while she works as a full time artist.


Though the virtual event will be occurring on Jan. 17, all Des Moines Public Library locations will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

Time: 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 17

Ticket Information: Register online at dmpl.org/events/.

Location: Online

Iowa Department of Human Rights to host 33rd annual MLK Celebration

The Iowa Department of Human Rights hosts its annual celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan.17. The free event occurs at 10:45 a.m. and can be viewed on the Department of Human Rights Facebook page.

Time: 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 17

Ticket Information: Free


Urban Dreams Day of Service

Volunteer Dr. Ahmed Agyeman cleans the windows during the Martin Luther King day of service at Urban Dreams in Des Moines, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.
Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Urban Dreams hosts a day of service. Volunteers will join board and staff members in spending the day doing work such as cleaning the space and writing thank you notes that supports Urban Dreams.

Urban Dreams is a local non-profit that provides workforce development programs, mental health treatment and aid to individuals with chemical dependency-related issues to create equal opportunities for underserved people.

Time: Monday, Jan. 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Registration: urbandreams.org

Location: Urban Dreams, 601 Forest Ave., Des Moines

YMCA Prayer Breakfast


The YMCA’s Ninth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast will take place virtually on Monday morning.

During the event, Betty Andrews, the president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, will receive the Make-A-Difference Award in acknowledgement of her social justice contributions in Iowa. The keynote address will come from Jelani Cobb, a writer for “The New Yorker.”

Time: Monday, Jan. 17, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Registration: Register for this free event at dmymca.org/.

Location: Zoom

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