Several community groups in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are hosting events on Monday, January 15, to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
A number of these celebrations will also address the violence that took place in Charlottesville this past summer, and how the community can unite and move on.
“Charlottesville obviously has been a splashpoint in the national conversation about racism,” says Melissa Woeppel of Peace Lutheran Church.
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day will provide an opportunity for people in Charlottesville and Albemarle County to reflect on King's dream and how it plays into the response to the tumultuous summer of white nationalist violence.
“It is important for us to truly know that the only way for us to move forward is for us to do so together, and that we have to be able to treat everyone with equity and equality in all spaces,” says City Councilor Wes Bellamy.
Several groups are putting on events Monday to bring the community together to celebrate King and his message.
“Sometimes when we hear about Dr. King, we think that it’s always just ‘Kumbaya’ and ‘everyone get along’ and this and that,” says Bellamy. “But Dr. King was an individual who was very vocal about not only the rights and the needs of the oppressed, but also by standing up and making yourself be heard.”
Peace Lutheran Church in Albemarle County is hosting a conversation aimed at finding solutions to problems it says date back to before King's civil rights movement, but continue to affect central Virginia today.
“We know that racism is still a reality that continues to exist, and we wanna talk about ways we can eradicate that,” says Woeppel. “My biggest hope is that we have a lot of voices at the table and that we can have an open and honest conversation about who we are as a community and what we’d like to see moving forward.”
That day of celebration and conversation at Peace Lutheran Church will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday.