Reclaiming the Beloved Community

Sweet Honey in the Rock’s a cappella spirituals, jazz and blues songs, bursting with soul and social conscience, have been a balm for Washington since the 1970s. Recent years have brought a renewed poignancy, in the group’s classic material and its new releases — last summer, Sweet Honey shared an updated version of “Come Ye,” a Nina Simone song that opens with the invocation, “Come ye who would have peace.” On Jan. 17, Sweet Honey performs two virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Day concerts live from the Lincoln Theatre, with a deep dive into the group’s extensive repertoire, and special guests including Wycliffe Gordon and Kiki Shepard.

When: Jan. 17 at 3 and 8 p.m.

Tickets: $15 per concert; $50 for both concerts and a moderated conversation with the group.

Not Just Another Day Off

The Folger Theatre’s annual tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is a tribute to the power of words. Actors take turns delivering excerpts from speeches by King, Frederick Douglass, Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders, while poets Camonghne Felix, Julian Randall and Joseph Ross offer readings from their own works.

When: Stream available Jan. 18-21.

Admission: Free; registration required.

The People's Holiday

In 1998, Christian McBride — one of the finest jazz bassists anywhere — conceived “The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait Of Four Icons,” a tribute to Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and King. Combining big-band jazz and swing with a gospel choir and readings from each of the civil rights icons, “The Movement Revisited” was recorded in 2013, but finally released to acclaim in 2020. The National Museum of African American History and Culture has arranged a concert inspired by the suite, with performers including students from the Julliard School (McBride attended there) and contributions by poets Evie Shockley and Sonia Sanchez, followed by a conversation with McBride.

When: Jan.18 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Admission: Free; registration required.

'Child of the Civil Rights Movement' with Paula Young Shelton

As the daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young, Paula Young Shelton grew up immersed in a community fighting for equality — including a man she called “Uncle Martin.” She used those experiences as the basis for a children’s book, “Child of the Civil Rights Movement,” which she will read at this virtual story time, sponsored by the D.C. Public Library, followed by an interview with members of the library’s teen council.

When: Jan. 18 at 11:30 a.m.

Admission: Free.

Reston Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration

Reston’s 36th annual celebration of the life of King. extends throughout the long weekend. Volunteers can participate in community service projects, such as making bag lunches for a shelter and cleaning up litter on nature paths, on Jan. 16 and 18. Jan. 17 brings an in-person concert by Akua Allrich and the Tribe to Centerstage at Reston Community Center, with the D.C. singer paying tribute to Simone and Miriam Makeba. The Reston Community Orchestra’s annual concert in honor of King will be streamed on its YouTube channel on Jan. 16.

When: Jan. 16-18.

Where: Full schedule available on

Tickets: Community service projects require free registration. Concert $15 for Reston residents, $30 for nonresidents.