King holiday celebrated in song, speech, and service

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his most memorable speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the momentous March on Washington in August 1963. That makes the year 2013 the 50th Anniversary of King’s oft-quoted words, “I have a dream... that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Remembering those words, The Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC) has named its 10th anniversary MLK tribute concert “Contents of Character.” It’s just one of many commemorations of the slain activist and Nobel Peace Prize honoree being hosted in Dorchester and the rest of Boston in addition to the traditional prayer breakfasts and service opportunities.

This year’s BCC concert reprises songs from the nine previous MLK concerts along with new songs celebrating the multi-choir group’s 10th anniversary. The decade retrospective invites back two popular guest artists: American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle and virtuoso drummer Cindy Blackman Santana. BCC performances are at 2 p.m. and 7p.m. at Jordan Hall on the holiday; tickets range from $15 to $45.

Here in Dorchester at the Kennedy Library on the holiday itself, the Celebrate! series will present internationally known storyteller Len Cabral sharing folktales, legends and personal stories from around the world. “Stories of Strength, Wisdom and Courage” which begins at 10:30 a.m. is free, but pre-registration is required at 617-514-1644 or online.

Hibernian Hall on Dudley St. will present Fate Comes Knocking, which depicts Dr. King through the eyes of people who observed his life and the national and world events that shaped him.

According to Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, playwright and director, “The characters in the show, in a time-honored Southern tradition, gather on a porch in the early evening to shell peas, converse, sing and reflect on the times and the man they have known from childhood.” Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m, Sunday at 3. Ticket info at

Using music and the spoken word, the City of Boston will salute Dr. King on January 21 at 1 p.m. at Faneuil Hall. This free event will feature a moving selection of classical music, spirituals, and freedom songs performed by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras’ (BYSO) Intensive Community Program, conducted by Marta Zurad. Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, author, psychiatrist, educator, and respected social critic, will deliver the keynote speech. A distinguished roster of leaders will read from some of Dr. King’s most memorable writings and speeches.

Also free will be admission to the Museum of Fine Arts on Jan. 21. Youngsters can participate in hands-on, drop-in art-making projects. Dot’s Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club will be displaying their mixed media collage. And those who want to follow President Obama’s second swearing-in can view all the 57th Presidential Inauguration coverage live streaming in Almond Auditorium. Details are at the website or call 617-267-9300.

Back in Dot, the City Mission Society is organizing community services opportunities here on Monday. From 10 to 3, volunteers will be painting and cleaning the Russell Elementary School and preparing meals and sorting clothes at Pilgrim Church in Uphams Corner.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, hundreds of volunteers will be serving in Dorchester as part of the Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service. Volunteers from HOPEworldwide, in cooperation with the Red Cross and the Boston Fire Department, will be placing fire safety door hangers provided by the Red Cross in areas of the town designated by the Fire Department as having the highest incidences of fires resulting in loss of lives and property. In addition to door hangers, volunteers have a supply of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers to provide to residents in need of these fire safety devices.

St. Katherine Drexel Parish will be the site of a Sunday evening prayer and song celebration sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston’s Office of Black Catholics. It will be held at 5 p.m. at the church, 517 Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester. A reception will follow the prayer service.