Reston’s MLK Birthday Celebration Still On Despite COVID-19 Restrictions

Reston Community Center is moving forward with the 36th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration with a mix of online and in-person events with the theme “Are We Keeping the Promise?”

However, several pre-announced events are being canceled or rescheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes the keynote address from Ibram X. Kendi, author of the book How to Be an Antiracist (which was very popular this summer at local bookstores). The event is being rescheduled for early 2022.

“We have planned meaningful events that will ask important questions and look toward the future as we as a community and nation reckon with this year’s revelations of the inequitable impact of the pandemic and the continuing systemic racism that is our national reality,” said RCC Board Chair Beverly Cosham in a press release. “At the same time, we are dealing with a rise in COVID-19 cases, so it is important to keep public health and safety in mind as we structure the opportunities for our community to tackle these critical issues.”

The celebration weekend is presented by the RCC along with a number of religious and civic organizations including the Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church on North Shore Drive, Reston Community Orchestra and Reston Association.

The celebration commences this week with a toiletry drive to support local families with items being provided to the non-profit Cornerstones for distribution.

On Saturday, Jan. 16 and Monday, Jan. 18, there will be a small, socially distant community projects where volunteers can sort items from Herndon’s non-profit thrift shop The Closet, and make bag lunches for those at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

On Sunday, D.C.-native jazz vocalist Akua Allrich is paying tribute to musicians Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba with a performance at the CenterStage at Reston Community Center. Folks can attend, though capacity will be capped at 30% and masks are required.

For those who do not wish to attend events in person, the Reston Community Orchestra is debuting their performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing on RCC’s Youtube page  at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16.

Also on the RCC’s YouTube page, there will be Akua Allrich presenting a performance specifically for Reston schools as well as a number of community leaders offering their reflections on Dr. King and his legacy.

Here’s the calendar of events, after the jump:

2021 Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration

Calendar of Events

January 4 – 18

Toiletries and cleaning supplies collection drive to support local families

RCC Hunters Woods and RCC Lake Anne

RCC is collecting supplies to support local families. Please donate at either RCC location. Needed items include soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and deodorant. Supplies will be provided to Cornerstones for distribution. Gift cards are also welcome.

Saturday, January 16

Community Service Projects

9:00 a.m. at RCC Hunters Woods
Free, 6 years and older

RCC is partnering with Reston Association, Cornerstones and The Closet for small, socially distanced community service projects. Volunteers will sort items from The Closet and make bag lunches for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter. Weather permitting, additional volunteers will be outside doing clean up on the paths around RCC Hunters Woods. Please note: The location has changed from a previously announced location of Southgate Community Center, which is not available this year. To register, contact Ha Brock, Reston Association Volunteer Coordinator and Community Outreach Coordinator, at 703-435-7986 or [email protected].

Reston Community Orchestra

Keeping the Dream: 15th Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

2:00 p.m. Online: RCC YouTube Channel

Celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at this moving virtual performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing. The performance pays tribute to Dr. King’s vision of a society free of prejudice and racial divisions and his belief in the power of music to help create positive change. Instead of the traditional presentation in the RCC Hunters Woods Community Room, the performance will debut on the RCC YouTube channel on Saturday, January 16.

Sunday, January 17

Akua Allrich and The Tribe, A Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba Tribute

2:00 p.m. at RCC Hunters Woods – the CenterStage
$15 Reston/$30 Non-Reston

All Ages
Tickets sold through the 
CenterStage Box Office

Jazz vocalist and Washington, DC, native Akua Allrich has proven herself to be a musician of extraordinary talent and crowd-moving passion. With finesse and charisma, she has successfully etched a place for her unique musical expression by electrifying audiences. To comply with current public health guidelines, the seating capacity of the CenterStage is capped at 30%, mask-wearing is required, and other strategies will be in place to promote safe attendance.

Monday, January 18

Community Service Projects

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
RCC Hunters Woods
6 Years and Older • Free

RCC is partnering with Reston Association and Cornerstones for community service projects at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Volunteers will make bag lunches for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, and sort toiletries and cleaning supplies for the Cornerstones Assistance Services and the Pantry programs. Volunteer hours conclude around 1:30 p.m. To volunteer, please contact Ha Brock, Reston Association Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator, at 703-435-7986 or [email protected].


Please visit RCC’s YouTube page for these wonderful, free performances and messages that will be available beginning January 16 for anyone to watch at their convenience.

Reston Community Orchestra, along with a mixed community chorus, will present a virtual, socially distanced version of Lift Every Voice and Sing.  RCO’s performance of Lyric for Strings recorded at the CenterStage in November, will be combined with short home recordings from Al Fatih Academy students. The students’ school-wide theme this year is “Be an UPStander!” and their prompt for their individual messages was “I am an UPStander like Dr. King because…”

Akua Allrich and the Tribe prerecorded a performance specifically for Reston schools. The community is invited to enjoy the performance as well.

Community leaders such as Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay, Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn, County Executive Bryan Hill, FCPS Hunter Mill School Board Representative Melanie Meren and others will offer reflections on Dr. King and the movement to which he devoted his life.

Photo courtesy of Center for National and Community Service

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