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Page last updated on April 4, 2023 at 10:15 am

Remembrance Day/Week


To commemorate the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission will host events honoring him on or around April 4th.


Coming in April 2023:


Living the Legacy:

A Week of Remembrance and Celebration of African American History in Bloomington through Art and Storytelling

In an effort to promote and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and promote the acceptance of diversity in the community, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission is planning a week of remembrance and celebration of African American history in Bloomington through art and storytelling. This week begins on Tuesday, April 4, which marks the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s tragic and untimely death. Each year, the MLK Commission remembers the tragic event that occurred on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968, where Dr. King was in Memphis supporting black sanitation workers who were on strike and demanding safer working conditions and better pay.

April 4-8, 2023 (Tuesday through Saturday), the Commission in collaboration with community partners, will host commemorative activities and events. The series will speak to all audiences and bridge artists/historians with the people who live and work in and around five historic sites in the Near Westside neighborhood and beyond:

  • Rev. Ernest D Butler Park, 812 W. 9th St.
  • Banneker Community Center, 930 W. 7th St.
  • Fairview Elementary School, 500 W. 7th St. 
  • Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 302 N. Rogers St.
  • Second Baptist Church, 321 N. Rogers St.


For the gallery event and the history walks at each site, an artistic display will be available for viewing and attendees can experience  a recounting of the history of the location. A downloadable self-guided tour of the locations with a history of the sites and the name of the artists and their artwork is now available. 


Events and activities include: 

Tuesday5:00-7:00 p.m.: Carmen Jones (Wells Library Screening Room 048, IU)

Carmen Jones, a 1954 American musical film featuring an all-black cast starring Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, and Pearl Bailey, will be shown as a collaboration with Monroe County NAACP, IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, the IU Black Film Center and Archive, and the MLK Commission. Following the screening, panelists and the audience will engage in conversation about the film. Register here:


Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.: Discussion of Why We Can’t Wait by MLK (Morgenstern’s Bookstore & Café, 849 S. Auto Mall Rd.)

Attendees will discuss the 1964 book authored by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled Why We Can’t Wait. The conversation will be facilitated by members of the community and MLK commissioners. Kid-friendly activities such as arts and crafts centered on the values and teachings of MLK will be available.


Thursday, 1:45-3:15 p.m.: Fairview Art Contest Awards/History Walk for Students (Fairview Elementary School, 500 W. 7th St.

Fairview Elementary School students will present the winners of the 2023 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance Student Art Context Remembrance Week Art Contest (theme: “what does Fairview’s diversity mean to me?”). They will then go on a history walk to the other four sites on the history walk. 

Special thanks to Brusters, Chocolate Moose, and Laser Lite for donating Art Award prizes for the Fairview Elementary School Art Contest Winners.


Friday, 5:30-7:00 p.m.:  History Center Gallery Event (Monroe County History Center, 202 E. 6th St.)

The Monroe County History Center will be the location for a gallery event where the Fairview students who won their art contest will be honored. The artwork featured at the historic sites will also be available for viewing. Artists, historians, storytellers, and the general public will join together to celebrate. Join us for light appetizers.


Saturday, 2:00-4:00 p.m.: History Walk for Community (start at any location on the history walk)

During the Saturday walking tour, attendees will view the commissioned artwork and engage with the artist and a historian, who has a connection to the site, at each individual location. Self-guided tours are also permitted using the downloadable maps (check back for those a week before the event) and audio files that will be available after the event.


Partners and Project Team

  • African American Historian Liz Mitchell (site selection, provide advice and guidance throughout the project)
  • Monroe County Public Library Adult Librarian Christine Friesel (site selection, provide advice and guidance throughout the project)
  • Monroe County History Center Director Daniel Schlegel, Research Librarian Meagan McDonald, and Curator Hilary Fleck (host the gallery event, provide research assistance, curate the art/history awards)
  • Fairview Elementary Teachers Brandon McGee and Sara Olivo (work with us on the art contest)
  • City of Bloomington’s Department Economic and Sustainable Development Assistant Director for the Arts, Holly Warren (support for the artists contest)
  • Morgenstern’s Book Store Co-owner Samantha Eads (help with book selection and publicity)
  • MLK Commission Members Gloria Howell, James Sanders, Lily Kleinlein, Jessica Davis, Malik McCluskey, Diane Shewmaker (connection to various audiences, like NAACP and IU students, oversight of the art and history contests, work on podcast development, set-up of the book conversation, and general project guidance).
  • Community and Family Resources Interns and Office Staff (help with implementation and logistics of the project)