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Two different holidays, one shared mission : In Illinois Jan. 17 will be dedicated to both Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali

For the past 36 years, the third Monday in January has been dedicated to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In Illinois, professional boxer and civic leader Muhammad Ali will be observed for the first time on Jan. 17, his birthday.

This year, both leaders will be celebrated on the same day.

Muhammad Ali - Quotes, Record & Spouse - Biography

State Sen. Laura Ellman and state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. sponsored the resolution, which was passed by the Illinois Senate in June.

The inaugural Muhammad Ali Day will kick off with an event from the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, a group of activists, influencers and organizations that promotes equality — and that advocated to have a Muhammad Ali Day.

On Jan. 17, a “Deliberate Dialogue” at the Chicago History Museum will take place. Opening remarks will be by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. Aisha El-Amin, who is the associate vice chancellor for equity and belonging at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will moderate several different panelists including the late boxer’s daughter, Maryum Ali.

Attendees will be virtual on Zoom and Facebook Live. Prior registration is required.

MLK, Muhammad Ali get a day of celebration - Chicago Tribune

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister, a social activist and one of the main forces of the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until he was assassinated in April 1968. Through peaceful protests such as sit-ins and sermons including the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he demanded racial, economic and civic equality.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Among his efforts was the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory practices such as implementing tests to see if an individual was qualified to go to the ballot.

Laws around voting are still making progress to this day. Presently there are two bills awaiting a vote from legislators in Washington, D.C., including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The goal of the Freedom to Vote Act is to lessen voting restrictions by expanding the ability to vote by mail and allowing individuals to provide a wider range of options to use for identification when going to vote. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would bolster the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The goal is to identify jurisdictions that have a pattern of discriminatory practices in an effort to continuously remove the barriers voters face.

The first MLK Day was celebrated on Jan. 20, 1986. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton declared that Martin Luther King Day should not only be celebrated but also recognized as a National Day of Service as a reminder to serve and build bridges between communities.

Acts of service include donating clothes, volunteering at a food pantry, or beautifying a community through gardening are some of the ways the day is honored.

On Monday, the city of Chicago will be hosting several different events for both children and adults.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is offering Chicagoans the opportunity to volunteer for their workday cleanup shifts. The first is session is from 8 a.m. until noon at Theodore Marsh in Will County.

There will be two sessions for cleanup at the Joliet Junction Trail. The first session will be from 10 a.m. until noon and the second shift will be from 2 until 4 p.m. at Abri Credit Union, located at 2350 W. McDonough St. in Joliet.

To volunteer at either session, the Forest Preserve District requires an RSVP for both individuals and groups. To reserve a spot, call the Volunteer Services Supervisor, Emily Kenny 815-722-7364 or email [email protected]

In the South Chicago neighborhood, SkyArt, a nonprofit organization, will host a free event between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday.

Martin Luther King's Haunting Reflections on Science and Progress -  Scientific American Blog Network

The four-hour session will include preparing art kits for Chicago’s youth to ensure children have the resources to express themselves creatively during the pandemic. The volunteer session also includes painting the gallery space, and outdoor cleanup depending on the weather.

SkyArt is at 3026 E. 91st St. Proof of vaccination is required. For more information email [email protected]

In Ravenswood, Chicagoans are being encouraged to volunteer at the Lakeview Food Pantry between 1 and 4 p.m.

Those who choose to participate will be asked to help with evaluating, sorting, labeling and packaging food items such as frozen meat and oatmeal prior to distribution.

The Lakeview Pantry is at 5151 N. Ravenswood Ave. Registration is required.

Cradles to Crayons is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children who face clothing insecurity. The group’s annual donation drive will launch on Monday, asking people to donate winter apparel including coats, boots and sweaters.

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