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MLK Mural

As King Week 2024 approaches, the DC Public Library is set to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision with a slate of events themed 'It Starts With Me,' encouraging people to embody the civil rights leader's spirit of initiative and action. The Library's programming, featuring conversations with Dr. David Johns, Soledad O’Brien, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III and Ibram X. Kendi, is designed to propel community members to embrace their roles as agents of change, in line with King’s enduring legacy of active engagement.


"The Library's programming for MLK Week connects deeply to Dr. King's legacy of promoting self-awareness and personal responsibility in driving social change," said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Public Library. "We aim to echo Dr. King's call for individuals to contribute to the continuing struggle against injustice. Our goal is to showcase how personal growth and commitment relate to broader systemic change. If we hope to carry on Dr. King's work, progress starts from within."


Key events include:

The Public Square with Dr. David Johns  

January 10 
7 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Educator, policy wonk, CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, and disruptor-in-chief Dr. David J. Johns will be in conversation with Dr. Chris Emdin. They will unpack the importance of considering how different aspects of a person's identity, like race, gender, class, and sexuality, interact and create overlapping systems of discrimination or disadvantage when pursuing social justice and racial equity, specifically the unique and often overlooked experiences of Black queer, transgender, and gender-expansive public middle and high school students in the United States. Johns will be in conversation with Dr. Chris Emdin, professor of Education and Director of youth engagement and community partnerships at the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center.


Dancing in the Darkness: Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III

January 11
7 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Using his book, "Dancing in the Darkness: Spiritual Lessons for Thriving in Turbulent Times" Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III will discuss the significant events and experiences from Martin Luther King Jr.'s youth that shaped his perspectives and propelled him to become a civil rights leader and social justice advocate. Moss will also discuss how people can follow Dr. King's example and practice spiritual resistance by combining justice and love. Dr. Moss will be in conversation with Rev. Thomas Bowen, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs and the Director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs.


The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks 

Documentary Screening and Talk Back with Soledad O’Brien
January 14
1 p.m. 
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will moderate a screening of the documentary "The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks," with filmmakers Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton as well as author Jean Theoharis. Based on the bestselling biography by Jeanne Theoharis and executive produced by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, this 2022 Peabody Award winning documentary depicts Rosa Parks’ life-long dedication to justice. The film chronicles her childhood, her activism before and during the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, her work for Congressman John Conyers in Detroit, and her involvement in causes such as voting rights, anti-apartheid, reparations, fair housing, women’s rights, and the fight against police violence. Fiercely dedicated to correcting the frequent minimizing of her accomplishments and the erasure of her radical politics, this powerful documentary recognizes that Black women’s work in the Civil Rights movement is often overlooked, and celebrates one of America’s greatest heroes to ensure that her legacy lives on. 


Barracoon with Ibram X. Kendi 

January 24
7 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
New York Times bestselling author and scholar Ibram X. Kendi will discuss his young adult adaptation of Zora Neal Hurston's "Barracoon: The Story of the Last 'Black Cargo'". Published eight decades after it was written "Barracoon: The Story of the Last 'Black Cargo'" tells the story of Cudjo Lewis (born Oluale Kossola), who was born free in African and captured and enslaved in America, fifty years after slavery was outlawed. Adapted with care and delivered with age-appropriate historical context by award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi, Cudjo’s incredible story is now available for young readers and emerging scholars. 


A full list of events can be found at



Audiences: All Ages